Sparky, Shmoo, & Eva at play

Here is a video of Sparky and Shmoo playing with Eva. Eva is sixteen this year and as sprightly as ever. The two Great Pyrs are seven. Although they are brothers, they are very different. Sparky, who has the biggest head of any dog I’ve ever seen, is truly a chihuahua (or I guess 92.5 chihuahuas) in a 185 lb body. He is having a few problems with his joints and moving slowly, although he is always ready for a bit of gentle play.

Shmoo is still as full of mischief (and barking) as ever. They are both bossed around by Eva, who has always run the show, no matter what otter dogs are around.

Look who I found in the coop gathering eggs. . .

Surprise, surprise when I went inside to do my usual egg collection. Here was this lady or gent. . . (I’m going to call her a she because it’s pretty clever to find such an easy, healthy source of food)

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Yes, that is an egg she has in her mouth. Brantly picked her up, egg and all, and we re-homed her under the storage shed, where something has been tunneling and setting up housekeeping.

She is a bull snake and harmless to anything other than rodents. And eggs.

LERA, dirty/spicy prizes, and new friends!

This past weekend I attended my first meeting of the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) meeting. . . and it was fantastic.

New Mexico might be a tiny state, but we are big on talent. LERA is the only chapter of the The Romance Writers of America (RWA), in New Mexico. I have postponed joining the organization because it is a six hour round-trip to go to Albuquerque. But now that I’ve gone once, I’m hooked. This will be a drive I will gladly make again and again.

The current president of the club, Jeffe Kennedy, could not have been more welcoming and generous with her time and information. Ms. Kennedy is not only a well-known fantasy and contemporary romance author, but she is a 2017 RITA nominee in the Paranormal Romance category with her book The Pages of the Mind.

FYI, the RITA is to romance novels (the BIGGEST fiction genre, earning over $1.2 billion annually) what the Oscar is to film. So, this is a big, fat hairy deal. Hugantic. Colossal. Yeah, and she belongs to MY RWA chapter!

The group has a broad base of writers–from new aspirants to those who have made it to the top of their craft. In addition to Ms. Kennedy, other noteworthy authors include Regency and Georgian Era romance author, Louise Bergin and contemporary romance author Robin Perini, among others. Check out the above link to LERA to read more about our impressive authors.

The meeting was packed with helpful info, from editing tips to self-pubbing to presentations on craft and style.

There was also a raffle and I WON! I WON! I WON! Wait, wasn’t that Sally Fields’ acceptance speech. . . (dating myself badly).

Anyhow, I won a dirty girl gift bag created by Jeffe Kennedy. In addition to a nifty tote there were BOOKS! Also some gardening supplies and stuff to go out and get dirty. Here is a picture…

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I have already dug in (get it?) to The Mark of the Tala and it has cut down on my productivity big time. I highly recommend it to lovers of fantasy. Great world building and characters you can cheer for, as well as lots of high politics and intrigue. Oh, and smokin’ romance, too…. Also tucked in the bag is The Edge of the Blade, which I am not allowed to open until I finish my monthly word quota.

 

 

Part II of This Old Adobe House…the Stairs…

Several months back I began a post about the floor we removed between our first and second floor. The floor was built over a circular staircase over twenty years ago when the house was converted into a bed and breakfast. When we decided to convert the Cottonwood Inn back into a house we removed the floor.

Removing the floor left a “hanging” door to a deck which was accessible only from the second floor. We needed a solution. I spoke to an architect and a master carpenter but neither could come up with a solution to the problem.

Enter: Mom.

Yes, my mother. She was a general contractor for several years and enjoys engaging in architectural projects for fun.

So, here is an image showing where we were at the point the floor was removed:

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And here is a photo of the stairs from the bottom…

The hidden staircase beneath the floor

This was closed off and used as a storage closet. The stairs are quite lovely and massive. 52 inches wide by 10×22 pie shaped wedges.

Here is a picture of the stairs after I  opened the doorway from 32 inches to 52 inches and then rebuilt the frame using lath and plaster (my first experience in working with lath).

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And, here we are constructing our new set of steps to the “hanging door.” That is Eva standing beside the project, keeping an eye on my work…

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Yes, those are magic markers laying on the step. We only use professional grade products on all our jobs.

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Mom supervising me to make sure everything goes together okay.

Here are the steps once I’ve made a heavy plywood platform for the top. I used scrap lumber for the sides–tongue and groove pieces left over from my pine flooring project.

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You can see that I have begun to attach metal lath to the sides in prep for the plastering. This is not fun stuff to work with and it really tears up even the heaviest gloves.

A closer picture picture:

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I wish I had taken pictures of the plastering process, but there was just mud and water everywhere. That was unfortunate because I had already stained and polished the steps with Minwax and had to do it all again after!

Anyhow, here it is as of now.

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And another from the bottom looking up:

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So, there it is.

On order are custom-made wrought iron railings for the platform.

Oh wait…one more picture: Here are Dottie and Lola (and Gloria’s butt) They hung out with me and held lumber while I cut. My hens have skills!

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