Saturday, February 12, 2022

Look For Me In The Retiring Room

Bringing home this pot of gold was one of my best decisions of the new year. The muscari is flourishing, and throughout the day I see it, smile, and feel brightened, cheered.
TaDa! I don't expect anyone knows what the bathroom looked like before, but this after picture is a big deal. I am not going to share the final color palette, or tile samples, but Mike is painting today. Paint. Today. And this is where we used to have a very large bathtub, and it is gone. It's something we decided to do a few years ago. We figured it could happen in the future, someday, because it was just a large area that was difficult to manage, unused, and for me... a teeny bit scary. The tub was over the part of the bathroom that extends, unsupported, in an overhang at the corner of the house. The few times I would fill the tub and enjoy a bath, when the water got cold, I would debate whether or not to add more water, and then my thoughts would wander... what does water weigh? (8.34lb/gallon) How strong is the framing? What if? Once my brain got to what if, the "relaxing" bath was a total bust. Cleaning the tub was another obstacle, a climb, and descent, and I can't imagine it getting easier in the years ahead. Yeah, yeah, obviously I had a list of justifications for taking the tub out. And when Mike got in there, before he ever heard that I have always been uneasy about the integrity of a large tub sitting on minimally supported flooring, he declared that the whole thing looked highly questionable, was creaky and squeaky, and the builders left heaps of old concrete in there!

Good-bye, big tub!

Okay, but the tub is in great shape and I do like baths, and so we are strongly considering framing it up and having a fabulous outdoor spa, where in the heat of summer, or winter (it's been in the 80s this week,) we can enjoy midnight soaks, cooling dips, a refreshing splash. I wasn't kidding about having harebrained ideas. It's kind of awesome, really.
Last peek! I am looking forward to sharing all of it, the before and the after. It's easy to see that this is going to be a great space, so that I am reluctant to call it "the bathroom." Is "Spa" too pretentious? What did they call these rooms in the Victorian times? Ah, yes... a retiring room! I heard it in Little Women, when Meg and Jo are at a party. Jo is a reluctant guest and hanging back in a quiet, generous sized room, which happens to include accomodations for a chamber pot, and Meg wants her to come back to the party. "You can't spend the whole evening in the retiring room, Jo." I could! I could thoroughly enjoy and appreciate a space where there is room to self-care, to wash away the day, both literally and figuratively. I realize I am recognizing some bias in my beliefs about "bathrooms," like the idea that they are only practical, functional, necessary, and yet almost an afterthought, not a place to hang out. Ideally, I am realizing, a bathroom, restroom, can be comfortable, inviting, that there can be features, or qualities, to it that are respectful of our bodies, our functions, and needs. I've mostly, out of habit, necessity, considered what was essential, and efficient in a bathroom: Go in, do your business, get on with the day. Do not dillydally. I am 55. I am going to dillydally all I can! I wish I'd started sooner, in fact. And I think on my old neighbor, and friend, Jennifer H, who taught me that when designing a space, consider what you would love if you were on a vacation, and include the fun, interesting, different, luxurious or inspiring, even if odd, things that make a getaway special. How about the Healthroom?

From the healthroom, you can see the large garden bed, where I have recently been weeding, planting, watering and giving thanks. And guess what... it's paying off! At long last, after years of failed attempts, and some small success last year, the chamomile has simply volunteered itself! I love chamomile so much, and have written about it so many times it could have it's own blog label.

Bird House Notes: Would anyone like to see a post that is exclusively snapshots of paint chips, tile samples, and faucet choices? I have loads of those! At some point all of this searching and deliberating will pay off! Right? February 10, 2022

When was the last time I talked about the weather? It's noteworthy this week. It's in the 80s. February and 80+ degrees, and ages since it last rained. I know... it's more comfortable than the sub-zero temps, but without some rain around here, and more snow in our mountains, the months ahead, fire season, will be something dreadful. I don't want to think about this. February 10, 2022

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Progress, Sort Of

Shopping for the perfect tea cup: "Don't worry about the price tag"

Let me begin by stating: I love this. It cracks me up, and it's relevant to our lives. We love our tea, and our tea cups. And, I can't deny, I am on a direct course for a future where I wear head scarves, coke bottle glasses, and heavy coats, and carry my... chicken? Is that a featherless chicken? Or. No. It's a small dog? Could it be? Is it an anthropomorphic potato? I have no idea, but the day I see one at the shelter, I am bringing it home, then carrying it around with me wherever I go. I will stick it in the basket on my bicycle, and ride around in my oversized coat, looking for tea cups in the second hand shops.

Dear Friends, I am posting today, as a reward for having made a list of all of the urgent, pressing errands, and tasks that I absolutely must attend to. I have it all written down. It's those things that I never think of in the light of day, but they collect themselves, and pull up into my brain, tires screeching, gears grinding, and honking incessantly for my attention in the wee hours! They list themselves to me, pressing me to examine and face up to all of the things left undone, each neglected assignment, and even a few of my most ardent resolutions, hopes of self-improvement, ambition. Not now, I implore at 3 am, and I make strong, stronger resolutions and promises. I will reform. Later, when it's time to get up from bed, I am foggy, reluctant, and the urgent, incessant honking demands have somehow evaporated. I have only a vague sense of nameless dread, but no specific desire to consider the cause, to write down The List. I have one, now. It's not complete, but it's a good start. But what's a "start" without a middle, and an end? I'll just blog a little bit more, and then I promise, I will get to the end of this list.

One thing not on my list is to delete the hundreds of snapshots of faucets, tile samples, and paint chips on my computer, and phone. Also, I may have 10,000 screenshots of memes, reminders, comics, wedding clothes, recipes, political references, design ideas, and article links. My head is congested, like my Cloud, and it is time to delete delete delete! I need to Marie Kondo my digital media!

Oh dear. When I searched "Marie Kondo," for a link, a searchable image appeared for: "The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over The Place." I will not go there. Alone, in my dark office, I feel seen. I feel like if I weren't crocheting, painting, and taking featherless chickens on bicycle rides, "Sh*t All Over The Place" could be the title of a master's thesis I write, based on raw, personal data. I feel like I was minding my business, in denial about a lot of things, but still showing up, when suddenly there is a bear. Do I run? Do I drop to the ground, cover my head, and hold my breath? Do I stand tall and growl back? Back away, slowly, humbly? I never would have thought that I take joy in leaving sh*t all over the place, but. Objectively? Looking at the evidence all around me, Whoa, I am face to face with a bear. A messy messy bear.

William cleared all of the debris from the bathroom demolition. He even sifted the dirt to remove small tile bits and broken stuff. He did a very thorough job of it. Upstairs, in our bathroom, Mike has all of the backer board installed, for the flooring, and the shower. And he's ready to mud the walls, in the shower, and in the spots where he had to remove drywall. He also cut the hole for the new sink, and I found a faucet! And the lights! And more tile, because we need some for a backsplash! I may even have chosen paint colors. Well, I am close, anyway. Why is this so hard? I have very strong instincts and concerns around not making bad choices. I am always awestruck by people that know exactly what they love, what looks good, these are the same people that toss off expressions, like "It's just paint!" They make beautiful choices, and probably never come across bears.

Hey, Saki? My little land seal, my fur potato, would you like to go for a bike ride with me?

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Words and Pictures

Chickenblog is my safety valve. I am not sure whether this is a recurring, semi-annual revelation, or a whole new epiphany. Just now, with little or no significant news or content to share, I am thankful, relieved, to have time to sit at my computer, format photographs, to reflect on my thoughts, and impressions, and then lay it all out, here... all of my little darlings. I don't kill them, or rarely do, but I publish them, and take some comfort in the small head space that gets freed up, afterwards. Ahhh, I sigh, metaphorically.
This season is so busy, so full. And I am reluctant to describe it thus, because it is cliché, and at times even hyperbolic, to be busy, to compare one's busy-ness, to list all of the deadlines, goal posts, laundry lists, to bullet point the tasks at hand. Sometimes, we don't exaggerate. Sometimes the cliché, is not mere banality, but simple truth. Geoff is working 7 days a week and late into the night. Max has taken on overtime hours, too. Alex, and Bambi are tackling home projects, like removing a dead tree, laying paving stones, hauling things here, and there. William is reorganizing rooms, hauling things here, and there. He's also rebuiling a cart, modeling it and designing the new table top, the facing around the drawers. He's making a stand for a mask... commissioned work. He did some photo re-touching. Maria has school, and robotics, and other clubs. She has big and small projects to think about, including the FIRST regional competition coming up, learning how to silk-screen Tshirts. Even the busy-ness adjacent to our home kind of spills over... next door, the Old Place is all but gone, and the big trucks, massive dumpsters, haulers, crew, and heavy equipment crawl over the property all day long. In twelve years living here we have never had a break from big construction projects happening on any side of our home... North, South, East, and West. And of course, we have our own big construction project, in house! Mike is rebuilding our shower, now. His work is coming along, as evidenced by the heaps of stuff that is being hauled to our dumpster! I finally found light fixtures, and... should the light fixtures match, or complement the faucet? They don't, it just occurs to me. I am getting the uneasy feeling that it's not going to look so good, having old bronze sconces above a chrome faucet. Ah, nutz.
This not the tub framing. A lot of that wood went into reframing the shower, thankfully. This is not the flooring, nor the old shower tiles. I believe this is what was beneath the old shower tiles. And maybe some flooring? It's a lot, that much I can confirm! William is carting it all up to the dumpster today. The cool, helpful part of this was that the old tub had a trapdoor beneath, so Mike could drop a lot of the demo material down through the trap door. I am so tempted to keep the trapdoor! The window on the first floor is in the laundry room, and I could just keep a cart below the hole in the floor, so dirty clothes could be dropped down, then wheeled into the laundry room. (Approximately 42% of my harebrained ideas are put into action, which is kind of awesome, really.)
Geoff, when he's listening to another of my harebrained ideas. Actually, this was Sunday night, when we had the brilliant idea to go out for tacos. This place we like has lots of outdoor seating, and we can isolate, like the true shy, reclusive introverts that we are, and eat delicious tacos.
Tacos. This. This might be my New Year Resolution, my word of the year! Tacos. Make them, sample them, enjoy tacos, and share tacos, visit taco shops, and travel to taco destinations. Be taco mindful. Be the taco of the party. Be complete, flavorful, be satisfied, and healthy, like a taco. Express my heritage and culture, taco-bout the good in the world, and bring more goodness to the world.
Besides, tacos, here are some things that have stirred my heart, of late: Wallpaper. And bulbs. I can't hang wallpaper... not well enough to invest in rolls, like this one, but if I could, there would be, at least, one wall of this paper, of flying pigs, and rabbits in tophats, on our restroom wall. And I would swoon for it. I have swooned for these muscari bulbs, just beginning to bloom. Their tiny bell flowers peeping open in striking berry blue spires. The papery bulbs huddled together, emassed in the terra-cotta pot. I felt a teeny bit magnanimous for bringing home only one pot... let everyone have a chance to bring their own home, too, I reasoned. My heart is stirred. It's dusty and busy, and noisy, and lots of things are spilling over, and some of it is too much. And hasn't that been too frequent, this business of "too much?" Oh, we all could use a break, for certain. I hope you find some bulbs, just beginning to bloom, or something whimisical, even if you can only have a sample to admire, and that you feel an affectionate longing, an aspiration that stirs your heart.
Ahhhh. I read Tasha's expression as serenity, as though she is so balanced and mindful, that all of the noise and busy-ness of the world cannot rattle her bliss. In an alternate universe, she is leading us in meditation. Close your eyes, inhale. In. Out. The sun is warm on your face, and only bird song reaches your ears. The World is soft, and we are here to admire her blossoms, to breath in, and slowly out. We are nourished by dreams, and carried on the wings of our best intentions. Breath in, and slowly out. Share your little darlings, your harebrained ideas, your seeds, and hopes... send them out, tend them, and see what grows. Tasha nods knowingly, speaks affirmatively, then we all take tea in the garden, where there are rabbits in tophats, rattys gathering bouquets.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Wish You Were Here

Sometimes you just gotta get away! Actually, we are in search of things to complete projects, and online shopping just isn't cutting it. Geoff, William, Maria, and I decided to pay a visit to a favorite salvage shop. It's the kind of place where you might find anything, and I always love seeing what's new, and old, unique, care worn, delightful. We didnt find bathroom light fixtures, but Geoff found some parts he has plans for, and so did William. Maria and I added a few more stops, around the corner, which was inspiring, fun.
What is it about patina and rust, old paint, old brass, old glass, and new ideas, that makes me feel so refreshed, recharged? And then it got me feeling nostalgic for our last visit to Portland, Oregon, traveling, roadtrips, new scenery, exploration, and discovery. I miss it all.
When it was clear that William and Geoff were going to need more time with door knobs and rosettes, Maria and I wandered down the street, around some corners, and we were not disappointed.

We came upon a botanical boutique, Craftmossphere! It was rather serendipitous, as we have been in deep talks about making moss walls, and moss centerpieces, of late. And I had just been discussing a certain brand of incense that is my absolute favorite: Sea Witch Botanicals, which I discovered in Portland, at Paxton Gate, naturally. And! Furthermore, that Sea Witch Botanicals had begun following Benevolent Order of Makers on Instagram, something both serendipitous and deeply gratifying, because I deeply appreciate reciprocity with the BOoMNerds. And, Craftmossphere is a very Makery sort of environ, with supplies, and workshops, greenery and inspiration on every wall and surface, so you can imagine our smitten state. I have very firm convictions that Craftmossphere should carry Maria's art, especially her dream portrait, in their shop, because it suits the space. Maria is eager to go back and see what she can bring into her bedroom, which she has dreamy plans for. Anyway, I am in a contented, inspired state, and thankful for the way it feels to get out, to find novelties, as well as connections, familiar, endearing. And I am thankful, too, for being able to take pictures, which are like my own postcards, so I can bring the pictures out and recall the happy places I have been, and I can write on the back of them, or on this blog... Wish you were here! and sign it with Love.

Bird House Notes: Bath tile update... ugh! Even though I finally got tile picked, ordered, and delivered, I had to do something over. I chose tiles too large for the floor; they won't slope to the drain. Now, with more pressure than ever, I had to go back and find small tiles. I've changed colors, patterns, and styles so many times, I feel like I don't recognize the Final Vision for the bathroom. It's a good thing I hadn't bought paint, because the color scheme is different, again. Otherwise, everything is going well, and Mike is making a quick and tidy job of clearing out all of the old stuff. I am so thankful for his input and guidance. You know, I was imagining doing one post when the bathroom was done... a big reveal, but now I am tempted to show what we had, where we are today, and maybe getting some input about the paint...? Maybe? February 3, 2022

We were looking for light fixtures for around the bathroom sink and mirror, and so far we haven't found what we would like. I am also on the lookout for freestanding cabinets/storage, also for our bathroom. It's a big room, actually, especially with the tub out, and it easily has the very best views in the house... it's almost like an executive's corner office. Fortunately, the commode is in its own closet, so there's no awkwardness about the 'rest' room we are creating. As generous as they were with the whole bathroom, the closet is definitely on the smaller side, which is why I am keen to find some effective storage solutions. February 7, 2022