Buen Camino

Everyone has his own camino.

Utility Sink – Part II

Now I have no more excuses. Time to get back to painting.IMG_1522

There are now three rooms in the house that I love being in:  My bedroom, the kitchen and the family room. All have been transformed from what they were like in my former life. Now these rooms are suited to my present life, my authentic self. They are the rooms I live in the most.

Since my last post I’ve been through four months of camping on a cot in the living room, painting my bedroom, emptying the contents of my kitchen and spreading them throughout the house, removing cabinet doors, painting them,  (My friend Sergio  – see blog archive “Behind the Walls,” January 12, 2012 – rescued me from the nightmare when I found it was impossible to do that job by myself. He brought his sprayer and painted the doors with a smooth sheen.) And then Sergio completed the counter tops in a week and a half, so now I have beautiful Italian tile that looks like marble, and real marble trim. Then it took me several weeks to get everything organized and in place.

So now I can live in my house again. And I’m back to filling the garage with more and more discard-able items, and I hope to have another garage sale in a few weeks.

This house is too big for me. Before I can decide what to do about that, I need to get the rest of it set up to live in for awhile, to get the feel of what it’s like to live my new life in this space. The former office and my project rooms are still full of clutter. The guest bedroom can harbor guests, although I haven’t had any lately. I want to completely clean and rearrange all three of those rooms, sans clutter from the former life.

And there is the painting of the hallways and other places inside the house, still to be done. And I can hardly wait to get creative about the stairs, tear the carpet off of them and see what’s underneath. Flooring still needs to be replaced in the kitchen, dining room and entryway. Before starting in again on the messy work, I need a utility sink. I’m not going to mess up my new kitchen sink with paint clean-up! The utility sink will go in the sun room. It’s the perfect place for it because that will be the location for my drawing table and I plan to do art projects there eventually. The sink will be well-situated for garden cleanup too.

Sergio is helping me install the sink. Yesterday we went under the house and put in the pipe. I say “we,” but I’m just the gopher (as in “go-for”). I am sometimes inept in fetching what he needs, but I’m learning. It’s interesting to watch him work and see how it all goes together. I am so excited about getting this utility sink!

Refurbish the Home

It’s all I can think about, making my surroundings fresh and clean again. I’m immersed, and I can’t get on with the rest of my life until this is complete. I appreciate the good intentions of friends and relatives who try to calm me saying, “Don’t worry. Those are just things.” Amid all the human-related chaos in my life, I suppose that’s how it looks from the outside. But that’s not how it is.

This is consuming me, breathing life-like creative fire back into me. I’ve had creative urges before, but this is unlike anything I’ve experienced. It’s a powerful, joyful madness. And it is a need, not a desire.

Thirty years ago this house was lovingly and nicely remodeled by the previous owner. Since then, the exterior, gardens and outdoor additions – decks and sunroom – were nice improvements made by my spouse, but meanwhile the interior waited… and waited… Because he had grandiose plans for a remodel that would require Herculean efforts. Literally Herculean, because the plan was to move all the furniture (including big heavy items like the upright grand piano) into storage so that we could strip everything down to bare walls, make construction changes, and completely make everything inside brand new.

I won’t elaborate on why that didn’t happen, but it didn’t, and it never will – not in that way at least. And now I’m thankful to have the opportunity to put my hands on some tools and paint brushes and get down to the transformation myself.

I’m living and breathing the life back into this house, if only so far in my imagination. I’m dreaming in shades of creamy yellow, warm gray, and soft warm tones. I feel the need to choose the palette for the entire house before I start. I don’t want to make the mistake of choosing nice colors, only to have them clash when looking out the bedroom into the hallway. I learned the hard way how easy it is for that to happen.

Finally I realize that the kitchen needs to be finished first of all. The 20-year-old dishwasher has been broken for over a year and I’m really sick of doing dishes by hand. The refrigerator, also 20+ years old, makes little growling noises, like it’s using all of its strength to stay alive, “grrrr….grrrRR…grrRRR…” and at some point it’s going to sputter and stop altogether. The stove is the 1974 original Hotpoint, a drop-in model, and that style no longer exists, so to replace it would require cutting the tile and space at the bottom. That stove and oven still work, but I won’t go into the disgusting description of the layer of grease that coats it, and everything else in the entire kitchen, due to an old inefficient stove vent. I have spent entire weeks of my summer vacations scrubbing and de-greasing.

I can hardly wait to have a clean, sunny yellow kitchen! I’ve started washing the walls and cupboards with TSP, and taken a couple of the cabinet doors off to paint and sand them. I got several samples of yellows at Home Depot. Now that I’ve chosen the paint, next week I’ll be moving along on the kitchen project.

I’m also clearing out 100 years and four generations of collections and clutter. A garage sale is on the horizon. I hope I can make enough money to at least pay for the new dishwasher!

But I was becoming too stressed. I decided to take a break from the project over the weekend. I put down the tools and cancelled the garage sale. I breathed deeply, prayed and meditated. I went for a walk in the fresh air with a friend. And that felt better. But then. I started thinking, what would happen if I took the carpet off the stairs? I haven’t decided if I want to live with wooden stairs or recarpet them when I replace the 30-year-old flooring in the entire house. What if I could just paint the stairs? Or at least I could live with the carpetless steps for awhile and see if I like that. It can’t possibly look any worse than it currently does. The cats have made the stairs into a scratching post, and no one stopped them, because heck – we were going to remodel anyway! I went to Pinterest… and as it turns out lots of other people have made beautiful stairways by painting the treads they found under the carpet. Now my mind is wandering away from the kitchen for awhile… and that’s what happens when I take a break from a creative obsession.

I also started this blog.

A Wolf at the Table

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My FatherA Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio book, with Augusten himself reading. Halfway through I wondered if I could stand to finish, it was so horrific and depressing, harrowing and brutal. Yet, I’m glad I stuck it through to the end. (Augusten didn’t have a choice, after all. He had to live through it to the end.) A cool thing about this audio version is the music, songs specially written for this book. Listen to the epilogue and the songs after reading the book. Well worthwhile.

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Tragedy in Nice

Ten years ago today, I was celebrating Fête Nationale in Nice. It was around noon, and I watched the parade from the park on the high hill above the Promenade des Anglais, and then went down the elevator to the town to try to catch the events, which had mostly ended by that time. Everyone told me that Bastille Day celebrations in Nice were going to be rather dull. Supposedly most people in Nice just stayed home to watch the parade in Paris on TV. However, I went out anyway, and found it quite interesting. The parade in Nice was not like those on the 4th of July in the U.S. It was comprised of civil service vehicles: fire trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances, and military vehicles. There were no floats or school bands. I felt it was a community showing pride in their service to the people. I went to the park and listened to the mayor give accolades to the civil servants, and saw the military and police in their uniforms as they listened to the speech and waited for it to be over, when they could enjoy the huge layout of food spread under the trees in dappled sunlight. It looked just like a Renoir painting. I was dismayed when my camera’s battery went dead after I snapped a few photos. C’est la vie, I just had to stash it away in my memory. Who could ever predict the tragic event of today?  Ten years ago, it was a safer world.

Tragedy in Nice

In the lawn, two months later.

In the lawn, two months later. The replanting of Corsican mint where the dandelions were, has been successful. It is now difficult to spot the holes. Of course more dandelions are also springing up. Maybe I’ll do this again, and more extensively, next year in early spring, when the ground is not so hard to dig.