5.09.2007

plants as art...

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I had quite a "growing" collection of house plants, succulents and a bit of a garden back in San Mateo. As is the case with most international (intercontinental) moves, one has to give up their plant collection. I had a very difficult time separating with many plants I had grown just from leaves or cuttings. I very much enjoyed playing with their leaves, containers, shapes, and colors to get quite the effect in any particular room. Slowly, I'm building the collection back up - most of the plants I have are grown from all the cuttings I was able to fit in a shoe-box and sneak on the plane with me. I remember, the first time the relocation consultant took me to the super-market in Graz the first words out of my mouth were "have they got any dirt?" In my first few days here, as we looked at homes I saw a plant store and asked if she didn't mind me popping in. "This is the priciest place in town", she warned. I mentioned to the clerk that I have cuttings that I need to plant right away. She lead me to the back where they had stacks, and stacks of used plastic pots. "Take your pick," the clerk said. "Gratis"

We are now settled into our home, and was able to put the few planters we brought to good use.


craning cressulas
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How could I leave these two relitives of the Jade Plant behind? Don't worry, they weren't that big when I stuck them in a shoe box to bring with... they've had about six months to grow.

the urns have it
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Two mother's day presents, one from Tortellino and one from myself. I like the way the two shapes contrast, yet they relate.

succulent party
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I just put all these guys together, they should grow into an impressive display this summer.

cut it out
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More cuttings that are slowly and carefully growing.

the columns have it

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In our living room, two columns really make a statement and elevate the plants to art.

botanical loot
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I went to visit the Graz botanical gardens, today and came a way with a little collection. To be fair, I did ask if they had any plants for sale, but they do not. Actually, they looked at me like I was nuts or like I thought I was in a plant store, instead of a botanical garden. Anyway, I picked up a few stems and leaves that "fell off" as I brushed past them. The loot includes: Camellia Sinesis (green tea plant), Fire Stick (from a 20 foot tree!!), Button, climbing fern, Begonia and some really bizarre multi-segmented tree leaf (don't know if that's going to grow into anything).

5.03.2007

U.S. vs. Austrian Painting & Painters...

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Having the interior of your house painted Austria is much more different than what you might expect in the United States.

First of all, many in the U.S. will paint their own rooms as we (I) did in our little in-law unit in San Mateo but then, we didn't have 13 foot ceilings with moulding on the ceiling and the wall.

Here's a shot of our ceiling and walls (now freshly painted) to give you an idea of what we're facing:


Most, as I have done, will go to the local home-repair store, bring paint chips, pillows, fabric swatches... whatever and have it electronically color-matched so that they can have the exact same color, again and again. Here, in Austria, you buy a huge bucket of white paint and bottles of colors and are expected to blend it yourself... or you hire a painter.

In the U.S. a painter will spend the first few days covering everything in scotch tape and plastic. In Austria, they throw re-usable fabric drapes on the floor and a 6 inch paper boarder along the wall and get started -- after they've spent a few hours hand-blending and matching the colors of your choice. Then, they hop on wood ladders that have the same step on each side, straddle the middle and walk from side to side as they paint the ceilings and top parts of the wall. As the perfect hostess you offer coffee, tea and cookies as I have done for the last seven days. Now, you'd think that the paint job has only taken seven days (the estimate was 3) but we've been in a state of semi-disaster for two weeks. The painters started last week but, with the four-day weekend (May 1st holiday) etc. everything has taken much longer than my patience, or joy of making caffe' latte at 7:30 in the morning.

Anyway, this was the last morning and I took a picture to memorialize the event before clearing away the empty cups:


The paint job is fantastic, and the removed every bit of paint. It's some kind of natural watercolor stuff and all you have to do is wet a sponge and wipe it off. Unfortunately, you have to be careful when cleaning the walls. "Don't use water!" one of the painters told me. "It will wash off the color". Of course, the wait until they're on their way out the door to tell me this.

I have a toddler, are they kidding that I can't wash the wall?!?

"Paint over the stains." They said, as the closed the door on the way out.