A January Valentine

We might as well revel in winter this year. Some say it’s the coldest on record in three decades. The reveling doesn’t take much for me; I’ve always loved winter. I think the soul loves the season into which one is born, so since this is my birth month, I don’t mind snow and cold and dark from mid December through mid March. Though, I must admit my spoiling: my work takes me to more temperate climes on occasion during the winter, and it’s been years since I’ve felt anything akin to Cabin Fever or SADD, both of which affect a lot of people I know. I spent Saturday and Sunday in the Caribbean, trying to soak up as much sun and heat as possible. Odd, I thought yesterday when I returned, the need to remove a thick winter glove to scratch at a mosquito bite on my wrist.

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These lovely old six-over-six ladies are waiting out the winter propped against our fence, a few feet from the place they’ll be “installed” as a garden ornament in the spring. Last summer, TBM and I discussed the need for a privacy screen of sorts- important to him to shield the street view of our backyard; important to me to shield the place where the Large Breed is digging his way to China. After some thought, I came up with an idea to use windows so that sunlight wouldn’t be entirely occluded. I sketched my idea (which has more to it than just windows) and suggested to TBM that we look for some at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. We happened to be heading that direction that day, and as we pulled into the parking lot, I spied these girls with at big ol’ FREE sign propped against a dumpster. “Hey…!” I exclamed, pointing toward them, and TBM replied, “Hmmm…” with a promising tone (he’s never been much into street finds and laments most of the things I lug home, though lately he’s starting to see the light). We got out of the car and gave the windows a good review: they’re made of wood; all the panes are intact; the sash are painted shut and the paint everywhere is peeling, but we don’t intend to lower and raise them anyway. They were perfect for my idea of the screen, so we loaded them up and drove home.

I hoped we could build the screen before growing season was over last fall, but alas our floor project overtook our existence. For now, the windows are propped against the fence in our back yard, providing a focal point in an otherwise bleak expanse, frosting over on both sides, catching snow on their muntins, and reflecting the sunrise, as they’re about to do here. After I’d taken this photo and left on a walk with the dog it dawned on me I would miss their best show of the day. Nonetheless, the picture is a reminder of something to anticipate when the northern hemisphere tilts again toward the sun, and mosquito bites will be plentiful and easy to scratch because I’ll not be wearing gloves.

Reclaiming Home

I’m one of those people easily sidetracked. So it’s no surprise I’ve not posted in a while, sidetracked as I was by the Holidays, completing our floor restoration, and starting to put the house back together. It’s going to take longer than when we moved in because we have a lot more stuff now, and much of it looks terrible on top of the now-beautiful floors.

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We have a lot of amazing resale/vintage/street find items, but they need TLC and time I’ve not yet given them. Until then I need to be creative in reassembling the house to the cultured bohemian vibe (is there such a thing?) I hope to create.

TBM and I decided to give gifts to our house this year for Christmas- she’s been such a good girl in all we’ve put her through. One of my gifts was shelves for the room we call the library, ironically, because in the past, what we had to hold our books was an old swayback Billy from Ikea and a bunch of wine crates standing on end. We threw Billy out when we started hoarding at the end of the summer, because he fell apart in our hands when we moved him, and when I started putting the library back together in late November, I despaired over stacks and stacks of books and no place to put them. I thought about boxing them and storing in the attic for a future when we’ve got funds to build a custom library, oh, perhaps something like this:

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That’s gonna take some time.

While reclaiming the house, TBM has moved his studio from the second floor to the first and he decided not to take along some track shelving he had hanging on a wall. It dawned on me if I reused it in the library, along with the wine crates, I probably wouldn’t have to store our books. But it seemed one slim set of shelves would look lonely in this room with twelve foot ceilings. So my gift was purchasing more tracks and shelves- a simple Rubbermaid system from Home Depot. I wouldn’t have chosen black, but that’s what I was reusing from upstairs and I wanted everything to match.

I used Rubbermaid single track shelving with brackets for our new library shelves. Fairly easy to install with a power drill, level, screwdriver, and major patience.

I used Rubbermaid single track shelving with brackets for our new library shelves. Fairly easy to install with a power drill, level, screwdriver, and major patience.

I sang praises when I placed shelves on the brackets and everything was LEVEL!

I sang praises when I placed shelves on the brackets and everything was LEVEL!

Loading one wall of shelves with books (this is not the same wall as the last two photos). Organizing our books made me want to re-read so many of them!

Loading one wall of shelves with books (this is not the same wall as the last two photos). Organizing our books made me want to re-read so many of them!

A word about hardware: Our walls in some places are plaster; in other places drywall. I used a stud finder to locate as many as I could, screwing the upright for the shelf directly into the stud. Where I couldn’t find studs, I used toggle bolts. It took three trips to the local hardware store to get bolts long enough to provide “clearance” behind the upright and into the wall, mostly due to concern that the bolts would protrude too far inside the wall and not allow our pocket doors to open and close. In the end, 4 inch-long bolts worked.

A word about drilling: I was worried about making big ugly holes in the wall, but relaxed knowing they would be covered by the uprights (when we build that custom library, we’ll deal with the holes). It’s important to drill the hole just big enough for the toggle to fit through, but not so big that it swims around too much inside the wall. I used a 3/8 inch drill bit, which was just right.

Here’s a finished wall of shelves, though now we need bookends to avoid the tilted look going on.

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Another time I’ll post pictures of the completed room, with which I must say I am quite pleased. But the nicest result: the pocket doors (glimpsed on the left in this photo) open into TBM’s new studio. Time was, TBM would hole away in his studio upstairs, but since moving downstairs and throughout the Holidays and start of this winter, he’s been keeping one pocket door open. It’s wonderful to have him so central, to have his music flowing through the house, to let the Large Breed to go from room to room and plant himself where he pleases. Not surprisingly, that’s usually on the floor in TBM’s room, where the dog slumbers and snores as TBM creates wondrous sounds during the day and sips whiskey at night in a plump chair in the corner next to the mantle.