Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Miss Edie

                  Miss Edie (left) and big brother, Jack

Miss Edith ( Edie) Bouvier Beale is the best Shetland Sheepdog in the world Look at those eyes --they're positively Liz Taylor-worthy, though more azure than amethyst.  I love her to pieces, but she is such a little wonder they call her a bitch!   She loves to play with her ball and when that can't be readily found my socks or my 2(x)ist boxer-briefs will suffice, sneaking them out to the backyard to play tug-of-war with her brother, "Blackjack" (Jack) Bouvier.  (Also a pooch par excellence). With the snow finally, slowly melting away, the disappearing drifts are revealing piles of my soggy, half-frozen unmentionables and what would appear to the casual passer-by to be the scene of a very wild party.   

 Jack and Edie's parents are Show Dogs, the winners of multiple ribbons and trophies.  Also destined for the ring, Jack and Edie were disqualified from competition because of minor infractions to the American Kennel Club's staunchly strict standards:  Edie is a half-inch too small and Jack has a slight under-bite.  Silly, I know, but that's show-biz, folks, and whatevs, --that's how the best Shelties in the world came to us.  I like to say we saved them both from a life in Pageants. 

The other night Edie somehow got into a bottle of Extra -Strength Tylenol and it's a good thing I woke up after hearing her throwing them up or this would be her obituary.  She's currently in the University of Minnesota's Small Animal Hospital recovering.  Prognosis: so far, so good.  But her three-day (thus far) stint in rehab sure is costing a pretty penny.  So I guess it's fortunate the aforementioned trip to Florida was canceled, because that money, which was once ear-marked for pool-side cocktails and new, pukka-shell accessories, is now going towards saving my dear little Edie's life.

*NOTE*  I will update Edie's progress here on this page.

Update 3/31  We visited Edie last night and she was extremely listless and did not seem to recognize us.  We were more concerned about her lack of interest in food, because the girl can eat!  She was not responding quickly enough to the antidote and so underwent a transfusion today in order to rid her system of the Tylenol she ingested.  The vet says she was already perking up a little, halfway through the process.

Update 3/31PM  Just got back from the pet hospital.  Edie is still listless and not eating, but her ears perked when she heard the words "treat" and "walk." 

Update 4/1  They let us bring Edie home!  I'm not sure if they thought Edie was out of danger or if they sized us up and figured four thousand bucks was our limit.  Poor little dear has a feeding tube up her nose but at this point it seems unnecessary as she is finally eating solid food.  We make our own dog food --ground meat, rice, and vegetables-- and since she wasn't eating the dubious-looking hospital food, we brought her some of her own special blend in her own dish and she gobbled it all up.  Right in front of the vet, who seemed a bit amazed.  (Edie hadn't eaten in three days).  Still, the feeding tube was left in --I guess it was a pain to install, so might as well leave it in, in case she stops eating again--  Whatevs, I know Edie and she ain't no finicky eater.  That gruel they serve up at the hospital (which no doubt is wholesome,  hearty fair) but seriously, if Edie won't eat it , NOBODY WILL!  

Anyway, she seems much improved over yesterday.  Thanks to all  for the kind thoughts,  prayers and best wishes.  She has to go back Sunday for labs and (I'm sure) feeding tube removal.  I'll let you know what happens...

Update 4/2  Late last night Edie's breathing became erratic so we brought her back to the U of M hospital.  The vet on duty examined her and thought she would be OK so we were sent home.  (They did remove her feeding tube, as she is eating solid food).  She slept all night and ate her breakfast, though not with her usual enthusiasm.  She sure sleeps a lot.  I'm a little worried  that her "touch of pneumonia," which she caught while in the hospital and is taking antibiotics for, is getting worse.

Update 4/2 PM  We brought Edie back to the U of M this afternoon because her breathing was very labored and we assumed that her pneumonia was getting worse.  Turns out it had nothing to do with the pneumonia, And while we waited for her tests to come through, her breathing became easier.  It's just going to take time and I guess she is going to slip and slide her way to recovery (hopefully) so I just need to relax every time she hacks up a lung and not assume the end is near and just let nature take its course.  

On a positive note, her appetite is back --and she demonstrated a little bounce in her step just a bit ago.  And that gives us hope.  

Update 4/3  She is definitely on the mend.  Rather lackluster in the AM but over the day became more animated than I've seen her.  She even chased a squirrel up a tree on her walk!  Well, it wasn't much of a walk --just a few feet down the sidewalk and after the squirrel incident, she got pretty exhausted.  But her appetite is good and she even is taking an interest in her ball.  

The meds thing is pretty confusing.  She's taking six different drugs --some need to be given with food, others on an empty stomach, some can't be taken at the same time,  most of them have to be cut in half or quarters.  One has to be dissolved in water and shot with a syringe down her throat.  (You can imagine how much she likes that). 

Update 4/4  Much more energetic today.  Chasing her ball and ran to the door to greet me home!  We're still concerned about her congestion.  The vet might add another (!) antibiotic.   

Update 4/7  Her personality is thoroughly recovered and she seems her own self, again.  Still a little congested, but that is slowly getting better, too.  Tomorrow she returns to the vet for a final check-up, mainly to make sure her liver is not compromised. 

Update 4/9  Edie had a check-up yesterday and passed with flying colors!  The vet said she was "a textbook case" of Tylenol poisoning recovery, which I guess means she isn't the only dog to have overdosed on the stuff.  We've been referring to her as "Neely," aka Patty Duke from Valley of the Dolls.     

This will be my last Edie Update --back to Merriman Park!  Thanks to everyone for your concern.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Sesame!

Just realized that I haven't posted a photograph of Merriman Park with the front opened up!  I honestly can't begin to tell you how completely marvelous it is being able to open the two, swinging, hinged doors and ne'er again have to worry about the windows plopping out and go crashing to the floor (usually snapping off a pediment or a keystone in the process).

The right side door used to stick a little, but I was able to correct that flaw, so everything now opens smooth as silk.  I really need to get those stairs glued in place.

 The double stair glimpsed behind the Palladian screen in the Entrance Hall (bottom center).

Here it is with the center component removed.  There will be doors in all the openings on the back wall;  the intent is to give the illusion of more rooms beyond.  I have been toying with the idea of adding a few inches off the back of the house so these doors would open onto a hall, but alas, I think space constraints in my real-life house prohibit this expansion as well.  But I plan on using working doors, just in case I someday change my mind.  And you, dear, regular readers of  this blog know how much I like to change my mind!

A new Follower of Merriman Park, Cassandra, recently read my entire blog --start to finish--  the whole thing!  And she was kind enough to comment on nearly every post!  This made me go back and re-examine my older posts and I realized just how much the plans for Merriman Park have changed over time. BTW, check out Cassandra's miniature village --it is simply fabulous --and as I've said before:  I don't use the f-word lightly.  You can click on her icon to the right to guide you to her most enchanted world.

Coach Lamp

I ordered a pair of coach lamps to flank the front door of Merriman Park and they were on back-order so I kind of forgot about them.  One of them arrived in the mail yesterday, which makes me a little nervous.  There was no explanation as to why they sent just the one and of course no one has answered my inquiries as of yet.  Hopefully, I'll end up with a matching set and not get two similar but different lamps!  (This stuff happens to me all the time). 

Once, back in my thea-TAH days I was making a costume and needed a certain number of paste jewels to sew onto the bodice and the helpful staff at the shop I bought the gems at assured me --swore up and down-- that they could "special order" the number I needed, so I reluctantly purchased the few they had in stock (against better judgment) and foolishly stitched them to the garment and OF COURSE it turned out they were no longer available! 

Ever since, I am a bit sceptical of "back" and "special"-orders.  Anyway, here's the lamp"

I like how the black cast iron color is repeated in both the lamp and the balcony railing.  Cross your fingers that the other lamp arrives, someday!

As I feared the LED, battery-powered light is absolutely garish!  Karin Corbin says I can tone it down with paint, but the color is such a ghastly, neon-bluish hue that I fear any attempt at masking it will only result in an even more hideous tone.  I suppose I will try anyway because I could never live with it as is.  Perhaps there are less shall we say vulgar colored LED bulbs available?
Maggie Smith (as the Dowager Countess of Grantham): "It's too bright!  I feel as if I am on-stage at the Gaiety!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Finally, some sunlight...

It may only be thirty degrees outside, but at least the sun is out.  So I quickly snapped a pic before the next storm rolls through. 

I'm having a hard time getting used to having Merriman Park upstairs in the dining room.  Its just so --so big!  I hope that the new cabinet I am going to build to set it on will help make it look more "in scale" with the room. 

The funny thing is, I was considering adding small one-story wings or "dependencies" to each side of the house, one an orangerie or conservatory off the library on the left side and the other housing a kitchen off the dining room on the right.  I planned on having terraces on their roofs accessed by the upstairs boudoirs.  But I don't think I'm going to go through with this expansion (unless I move to a larger house).

            Merriman Park looms in a corner of the dining room.

I do believe I am, on the other hand, going to add a cupola to the roof!  I found arch-topped windows in 1/24" scale that are the perfect size for an octagonal cupola.  I'd like it to have a domed roof and weather vane, of course.  And would it not be spectacular with a tiny, little chandelier burning inside it at night?

Speaking of  electrical matters, I ordered a transformer and wiring supplies yesterday.  Which reminds me: as long as it's so sunny out, I should go ahead and replace the faulty dimmer switch in the spare bedroom...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Spring (???)

Ah, Spring!  When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of .....shoveling snow?

While most of you dear readers of Merriman Park are plucking tulips and daffodils and no doubt arranging them into delightful springtime bouquets,  this is what we woke up to here in drear Minnesota:

              Our house, The Lilacs, taken March 23rd, 2011

I think it was fellow miniaturist Kate who mentioned in a recent post that she was working on her latest project on her porch, where there was a nice, cool breeze blowing.  Well, bless her heart!  Guess I could go ahead and do the same thing --if I wanted to loose a few fingers and toes to frostbite.

Can you tell I'm still a little bitter over missing out on our trip to Florida? 

Oh, we say here in Minnesota: "oooh, it wooon't last tooo long, yooou betcha!"

And this is what it will look like in three months:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Night Shots

I couldn't resist.  I snapped these (with a pillar candle in each room) before the whole house --Merriman Park as well as my own real house!-- burst into flames...

                Gives you an idea of an electrified Merriman Park.

Reminds me of eighth grade:  World Religion class.  I made a model of some Russian Orthodox cathedral.  It was pretty impressive -- I remember having to convince my pals that I actually made it and didn't purchase it at --what? --the Russian Orthodox Cathedral Model Store?  Whatevs.  Anyway, naturally I got an A+ on it but what to do with it afterward?  My juvenile delinquent, so-called friends had a fabulous idea:  blow it up to smitherings.  I was too into peer-pressure issues back in those days to resist so naturally I agreed.  So there went my A+ model Russian Orthodox cathedral --up in smoke and a bang, bang, bang of M-80 firecrackers.

Bricks are FINISHED!

And, because our friend Eric, aka "thing," was over helping out with our invalid, Blanche --er, I mean Glen-- I had him help me schlep the hulking Merriman Park out of its former basement lair and it is now ensconced in its permanent home.

The wall color kind of looks like sky!  This photo was taken in the early evening, on a rainy (but not snowy, thank god!) day, so it will be interesting to see how it looks in the sunlight.  But even in this terrible shot, you can see some of the detail better.

                          Oops! Forgot to glue the stairs on!

You would laugh out loud if you saw the pathetic, so-called shelf it is currently sitting on.  I dragged it out of the garage ages ago in one of my Design on a Dime make-overs, as a temporary stereo cabinet, which I never got around to replacing.  I am going to build a brand new cabinet this summer --a proper pedestal for Merriman Park to sit upon.
Confidential to Nick:  

Hope you had a very Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Center Component FINISHED!

I finished the center component today --this means all the windows and the door are permanently fixed in place.  So I can remove the whole central bay of Merriman Park all at once!  No more windows toppling out and breaking into pieces!  I finished the stonework and I added corbels to the upper corners of all the second story windows.
          There's that ghostly specter again in the center window.  Spooky!

I'm deliberately avoiding bricking the end section --it's so tedious!  But I will try and get it finished tomorrow. (My last "vacation" day).  Yes, I should have been sitting on the beach this weekend --if it weren't for poor, crippled Glen-- but getting so much work done has actually been rather satisfying.

                  "Butcha ARE, Blanche!  Ya ARE in that chair!"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Installing the balustrade

We were supposed to leave for Florida today, but because of Glen's accident on the icy sidewalk our vacation was canceled.  Ugh!  This Winter has been a complete nightmare!  But I decided to take the day off anyway and work on Merriman Park.  I got a good start on the railing, after stewing about it for several days.  Thanks to all who "held my hand" and gave me the advice I needed.

The splats are set into holes drilled into the balcony floor and the handrails are set into the pillars.  the tops of the splats are set into a narrow groove cut into the underside of the railing.  I still have to cut spacers to fit in between the spats.  I'm pretty happy (and relieved) this task is almost complete.
 I permanently glued the columns in and reinforced them with small brads which were set with pre-drilled pilot holes.  No cracking this time!  At least now I no longer have to fret about the columns toppling over and breaking. Someday, I'll be able to say the same thing about the windows and doors.

My goal is to finish bricking the "East Wing" end wall, and fine-tune the stonework.  I also took Monday off, so I think this goal is attainable...stay tuned!  All this work done and no unsightly sunburn!  Florida, Schmorida.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Great News!

Sue Cook, of Sue Cook Miniatures in Cornwall, England wants to put a photo of my very own Merriman Park in her hallowed Gallery!  I am so excited!  And honored.  She also gave me much-appreciated installation advice for the balustrade, which comes from her catalog of exquisite components. The keystones, which I used to customize my off-the-shelf Houseworks windows and doors, are also hers as are the  scrolled brackets on the stair.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oh, oh...

So I was trying to set the columns into the wall along with installing the "cast iron" balcony railing.  It all has to be done at the same time so everything is set sturdy.  My plan was this:  "dry set" the columns with wood screws drilled through the floor of the balcony at the bottom and through the balcony ceiling at the top. Then I'd measure where the balustrade splats line up (every 1/2 inch) and drill those holes into the balcony floor. 

As you can see by the photo, the balustrades have a rectangular pin at their bottom, so I would need to make a rectangular hole in the floor to accommodate them.  I thought I could accomplish this task by drilling two holes side-by-side and then using a wood gouge to create the rectangular shape.  I then need to mark the point on the columns where the railing hits and drill holes to inset the railing.  I think it is important to do inset the railings into the pillars because I see them snapping out if I just butt-jointed  them against the columns.  Right?

Here's where it gets tricky:  After drilling corresponding holes in the underside of the railing (where the tops of the balustrades fit), I was planning to unscrew the columns, and then glue each column one at a time, reset each screw, glue the balustrades in their pre-made holes, sliding the railings into the column holes as I went along. Repeat with each column.

Sounds like a plan.

Only, I didn't even get past dry setting the columns.  

I bought new 3/4" wood screws for the job, and a new drill bit for pilot holes.  I had a hard time drilling the pilot holes --the pillars are made of some kind of resin and the heat from the friction melts the resin and gums up the bit.  I found that by making short passes with the drill, waiting a few seconds between passes, kept the bit from getting stuck.  I took me about forty-five minutes to un-stick my drill bit and get one hole --one hole!-- drilled!

That Labor of Hercules accomplished, I then tried screwing the first column to the floor and ceiling.  You would think that this wouldn't be too difficult, wouldn't you?  Oh, how wrong you are!  Even with the pilot holes, the column still snapped off at the top!  I was, as they say, "a clean break" and I was able to glue the pieces together with little effort. Catastrophe diverted!

But how do I continue?  I strongly feel that merely gluing the columns in place will not be sufficiently strong enough --but perhaps I am mistaken?  Is there some kind of glue strong enough to hold them in pace without the added back-up of a screw?  I just think that when the center component is lifted out it is only going to be natural to grab onto the columns and start yanking.  And you just know that someone is going to end up with a broken-off column in their hand.

 Speaking of  "clean breaks":  

To make matters worse, my beloved Glen just slipped on the icy sidewalk, broke his ankle (in two places) and will be laid up for several weeks.  Bye-bye, trip to Captiva, next week! 

Did I mention I hate Winter?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taking a Breather

I had to take a break from etching bricks to working on the stone facade.  Unfortunately, I was working while having just a teensy, little martini before dinner and I jacked it all up and had to start over practically from scratch!  One step forward, two steps back...Ugh!  Note to self:  Don't drink and paint.  At first I was totally bummed by my idiocy, and not even watching the fur fly on RuPaul's Drag Race could console me, but I'm liking how it's turning out. Live and drink I mean learn.  Learn!
As you can see, I also finished the front door with knobs and kick plates.  They're gold-plated brass.  Fancy-schmancy, huh?  I decided to beef up the stairs, too.  I'm trying desperately to keep Merriman Park's footprint small as to not  completely take over my dining room, where it will finally sit, but --what's another 3/4 inch? 
The big push now is to finally install the cast iron balustrade between the pillars.  This will mean the pillars will at long last be fixed into place.  I can't believe they haven't broken to bits for the number of times they've tipped over!  I'm having just a little angst over this step --drilling holes into the balcony floor and into my columns  makes me kind of nervous...
The banisters are from Sue Cook Miniatures in England.  (As are the face keystones in the photo). The banisters are cast, I believe, out of lead but *confidential to Karin Corbin* --I promise I won't lick them.  BTW, I have ordered several items from Sue Cook and have always been perfectly thrilled with both the superb quality of her wares and her extremely prompt service. In fact, I just placed another order with her for a ceiling medallion for the Entrance Hall.  I know!  The interior!