another little piece a' my heart...
It is truly amazing how autobiographical a home page becomes.  You find yourself searching dark corners of your mind for missing, or misplaced, pieces, and wondering where they fit. It's quite problematic.  There really aren't any corners; oh, lots of shadowed places, but everything is all rounded away from the stark blacks and whites you thought it was, gone to a kalidescope of shimmering greys, like worn stones in a creek bed, a thin film of water keeping them slightly out of focus.  Every path across your mind is circular, bent, as twisted as they way you laid it down in the first place, all the while thinking, perhaps, that you were walking a straight line.  Looking at an old photo you have to wonder if this was really you, or some younger stranger that once masqueraded under your name and did things you would not have done.  Being almost 60 is bad enough; who could possibly want to live forever?  All the emotions just wouldn't properly go inside your skull.
There is no way I can just hang out.  I would like to blame a febrile imagination, creativity run amok, but no such luck.  Antsy is all that I am. Not that I can't spend hours in front of the tv watching strange movies, I do.  No, I just can't leave things well enough alone.  As a renter I was an enraged person.  There were walls to tear out, floors to rip up.... 

On the left was once a nice, plain, plaster over concrete block wall. Most folk would have simply painted it.  I had a vision:  twenty-three feet of tile, floor to ceiling, a Leonardo-style mural.  (Don't listen to them when they say 'never over-reach your grasp'; screw 'em, but try to at least be ready for the consequences.)

You have just entered the hall, moving toward the bedrooms and bath, arriving from the living room.  A three piece England-adaptation of a Japanese wood print wave, eight feet tall, is rising furiously on your left.  Overwhelmed, you begin to hurry.

I laid the rising part and then realized that the falling part had to look different, had to turn under and move into a different plane.  Thought about it some and just set the next tiles at 45 degrees; the effect was perfect.  These are old photos and the best I have.

I looked at a couple of books, and then learned to lay tile by doing it.  A sears table saw ate enough tile dust in the course of several years to try its motor deeply, and it later went south in thick clouds of smoke.

The wall was scraped to bare block and a grid of 4" squares snapped on it with a chalk line.  Every tile started out as such, 4x4.  Each tile needing sizing was cut from 10 to 15 times, to get the perfect no-grout fit.  You can see why it took me about 6 years to lay up, and I never did finish it.  There is a place in the middle that is just bare block.
A note on the window.  I tore out the existing one; it was very ordinary, and I replaced it with 12"x12" glass blocks that I found at a garage sale.  There are 4 blocks right and 2 left, and the space between is a gun-slit window, about 4" x 25",  that opens to let some air into the hall.
1984 - 1996:  2021 West F St., Napa, California.
The grid is necessary because all the curved lines of the cartoon require some point of reference as you chalk up the design.  The original cartoon was a sheet of graph paper about 8" x 23".

There is no wonderful story about this end.  The wave wore my imagination out.  An engineer-type looked at this end and said:  "looks like a bunch of french curves."  He even sneered, and by jiminy did he piss me off.  But, of course, he was right.  That's exactly what it is.  What's a guy to do?
The odd little tile in the midst of the yellow is one my son, Ara, made in school.  So, up it went into the wall of fame.
It has always been my belief that you never leave your leftover partial tiles along some poor, misbegotten edge; I just hate that.  The partials, or the space they would fill, should become part of the pattern, for balance.  This floor is so balanced.  Large matte black tiles, with shiny porcelain black buttons in 2 stripes making up the difference.  I pushed the hall tiles into the bedroom a little with small triangles, and brought the bedroom tiles out into the hall in three 3/4 rounds advancing boldly along.  I rather liked the effect.
Turn around at the bedroom door and look behind you.  The wave is still coming, but you've escaped for the moment.  And yes, there is the unfinished part.  It is almost a hallmark with me to leave something undone.  This wall is still there, unless the house, which wasn't much to begin with, has been torn down, or it finally got painted.  A nice taupe, maybe.
A likely lad.  Back of the photo says '83.  Pat and I were hiking, as I recall.  The only thing I am not sure of is whether we got naked on this hillside in view of the enitre universe before, or after, she took this photo.  Not much given away by the inscrutable expression. 

In the last 40 years I have probably not spent a month shaven.  This may be the only photo of me in that state.
THE TILE LAYER AT LEISURE..