It seems that my nature abhors a vacuum. The notion of “taking a month off” has in truth been more like “cramming every project possible into every day” And I am not complaining. It’s fun to stroll the grounds and stir the pots of all the little endeavors that have been percolating.
As I mentioned, my sweet friends Kevin and Mark are hosting their wedding here at the end of August. This means that I have 2 weeks to pull off a bunch of stuff. Actually, tomorrow I am going away for a week, so… there is in fact really just one week to make the magic happen. (Um… ack!)
I am sure many of you would agree with me that the best time to create with abandon is when you are racing with a deadline. (Hmm….how many of you are high on glue trying to get your Burning Man costumes together right now? See what I mean?) I don’t know how we are gonna pull if off, but I am POSITIVE that in 2 weeks when a couple hundred people start showing up, this place is gonna be shining.
So far we have made a lot of progress. The project that puts the biggest smile on my face this week is my attic studio. When we moved into this house 3 years ago, I desperately needed to sew in order to pay the colossal renovation bills. I moved into the grimy attic and just pressed my nose to the grindstone.
We poked a few windows in and threw some drywall up just to make it less depressing. It has been the most neglected room of the house, despite being the one I spend the most time in. Seriously, I am in this room ALL. THE. TIME. We also refer to the attic as “the orphanage” because when we have big parties (like our sleepover for 40 people a few months ago) this is where you get to roll out your sleeping bag and fit in like sardines. This attic was a work horse, not a show pony.
Well, shazam! Now it is my favorite room in the house. Probably because it is shiny and new and clean and uncluttered. It has such a nice energy about it now. I sneak in there every morning to do yoga…which is, I confess, just a gluttonous amount of time in starfish pose admiring my walls.
Before the floor was uneven plywood covered in a bunch of misfit oriental carpets. My magical carpenter elf Kara Blossom just redid the floors in wide plank knotty pine, and we figured out the COOLEST finishing treatment. There is this tint called Mixol that you just pour into the polyurethane, and it comes out in amazing colors. My floor is like a Caribbean peacock lagoon. You walk in there and just want to exhale all your troubles away. Its so pretty that I still tiptoe on it ‘cuz it makes me nervous, like freshly painted toenails.
I knew I wanted to upholster the walls in fabric, and I figured that with such a schmancy floor I better downplay the drama on the walls and go for some white-on-white damask. I went to the fabric store and made a beeline for the creamy whites. But, I am me. White-on white didn’t stand a chance. I walked out with this rainbow psychedelic hypnotic circle fabric. I have such a crush on it. We stapled it up and Mason bordered it all with milled trim. Now the room looks so crisp and bright and inviting. It is SUCH a change from the place I have spent the past three years hunched over and cutting sweaters. I am so glad I finally splurged and did this for myself.
I know when you look at the pictures you are gonna scratch your head and be like, “How is that her studio? Where are the sweaters?” I guess this is as good a time as any to confess my dirty secret… I am not the zany, hectic, wild mess that logic would suppose me to be. I am actually…… really neat. I grew up as a messy person – in my soul I swear that I am messier than all of you combined. Running a business has taught me to be efficient and trim away any wasted motion. I have found that keeping a tidy studio makes my whole operation run smoother. It is a faster way to work, plus it gives me a sense of peace to put everything away at the end of the day. (The sweaters are in bins on shelves, hidden by fluffy flokati rugs, in case you are wondering). Yup. I’m a bad hippie. Too neat.
My work studio is actually two rooms – the attic is where I cut the sweaters, and then there is another room that is my office and sewing machine room. Being a de facto hostel for all of our friends, every room also has to double as a guest room, so there is a pretty bed in here too. It was a mish mash of cobbled together furniture for 3 years while I was on the prowl for the perfect set of drawers.
I saw this Etsy treasury once with a yellow bedroom set that instantly became the platonic ideal of what I wanted. From then on I turned my nose up at everything, and looked high and low for the drawers of my dreams. I found out that they are called “Campaigner” drawers, and they are cheesy 1970’s modular furniture (or as they say on eBay “mid century”…yeah, whatever). I relentlessly googled Campaigner furniture and never found anything reasonably priced. But I knew my ship would come eventually.
Last month in one of my typically fruitless Craigslist hunts, I found it! YES! There was an estate sale, and they had an entire set, and it was practically free. It was only an hour away. Eeeee! I gave sleepy Mason sad eyes until he agreed to take the schoolbus down with me that very night. The set was white, not yellow, so, I had to work some of my sloppy paint magic. But now I LOVE THEM. My office room is like this happy futuristic sunshine pod. I am relishing the newness so much that I still haven’t put anything in the drawers. But, dude, I have SEVENTEEN drawers now. Previously I had none. I am gonna savor this.
I don’t know why empty rooms and empty drawers make me so happy, but they do. Gotta love a blank canvas.
Another project we did recently allows us to cross a Dream House Feature off the checklist – Wall Aquarium! Come on, who doesn’t want a frikkin’ aquarium set in the wall? It is the best. I have three feeder goldfish (Ben, Angela, and Tim Finnegan). We are tight. I love my fish and sometimes I dream about them. We have been thru a lot together. I spent about 24 cents total buying them, and then some ridiculous hundreds of dollars over the years doting on them. If you keep an aquarium, you know exactly what I am talking about. Fish rock. And now mine rock even harder ‘cuz Kara Blossom made us a wall aquarium. It is right above the kitchen sink and goes through to the Jungle Room. Now I can talk to my fish when I do dishes. I also just discovered that I can trail certain houseplants out of the tank, so, basically, it just keeps getting cooler and cooler. Fish, man.
Outside in the yard we have a lot of other projects going on too. We just put in 5000 daylillies and are trying to cover the ravages of out endless summer excavation. There is a big scar in the ground that came about in some moment when I decided that the time had finally come to get a hot tub Oh man, I want a 80’s swinger steamy neon lighted over jetted hot tub so bad!!! I told the guy with the excavator to clear me a 10′ x10′ area for the hot tub, and I did a little dance of anticipation. Then I looked at my bank account and, um… now we have a big hole in the ground. My friend Ahnika fell into it yesterday in the dark. Oops. (She is fine)
So yeah, big hole in the ground. The new plan is to turn it into an outdoor bathtub area. We have an extra clawfoot tub taking up space in the barn, and it seems like anyone in their right mind would be thrilled to take a bubble bath under the stars. So, that is happening. Outdoor bathtub is happening. If I keep saying that, maybe it will happen. Bathtub is happening. Gulp….. As of tonight it is still just a hole. Yesterday we went up a mountain and filled a pick up truck full of big flat stones for the floor. I found some pretty fencing to prevent future tumbles. It probably won’t keep anyone from falling, but it will impale their jugular on the way down so that the fall is the least of their problems. And though it doesn’t looks like much, I swear that by August 29th is gonna be so cute that y’all are gonna want to Pintrest the bejeezus out of it. I hope.
Oh, and don’t even get me started about the waterfall that I am going to build. I know to the faithless it would seem to be an ordinary pile of rocks. But any moment now it will be majestic and make you feel inner peace when you look at it. Busloads of Chinese tourist will soon be pulling up every day to pose for snapshots in front of my waterfall. It will be like world peace in liquid form. Waterfall is happening.
I haven’t even told you about the BIG project. Man alive…this other stuff I totally have mentioned is mere child’s play…. the BIG scary project is that we decided to make a PARTY MEADOW way back in our woods. We want to have crazy loud starlight dance parties. We had this idea in March and we were like, “No problem! We have months to work on it!”….. Now we have, er… a few days.
Today the woods behind Calico have been echoing with chainsaws and the sound of trees crashing down. (I feel like a massive jerk for killing trees. I am sorry everybody. My hippie street cred is rapidly draining! Ack! I kill trees. I promise I will plant new ones.) There are a bunch of burly fellows schlepping limbs and making massive brush piles to burn. Slowly the sunlight begins to dapple this forest floor again for the first time in a century or two. It is SUCH a mess and if you saw it you would be like, “How does she think they are gonna pull this off in time?”
And you don’t even know that clearing the meadow is just PHASE ONE of the Master Plan. Because not only does the meadow have to happen, but then Magic Carpenters are gonna manifest from I-don’t-know-where-yet and together we are gonna build a Cantina/Saloon/stage/spaceship/something/I don’t know what yet. Alls I know is that we have a barn full of salvaged doors and windows and architectural bits, and in a couple of weeks they are going to be part of something awesome in the forest. By the way, I have no carpentry skills at all.
Yeah! It is happening.
But guess what I am doing first? You will be glad when I tell you. I am going on vacation for reals. Tomorrow I am driving to the Berkshire mountains, down a long dirt driveway to a cabin that my great great grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is on a lake. There is no phone or internet or electricity. Just a lake. There you will find me, lying on the dock. My biggest exertion will be lifting the Arts section of the Sunday Times and positioning it so that the sun doesn’t get in my eyes as I read. I might not even read. That is all I am doing for seven days. Hallelujah!
See ya when I get back!