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Archive for the ‘Life Before the Homestead (Mostly in Ovid)’ Category

When I first saw my attic, I pictured a large loom, spinning wheel(s), and yards of surfaces for crafts and sewing needs. I also pictured rainy days spent with my children in harmony and intuitive, heart-felt respect for one another’s talents, ideas, and ambitions. I envisioned snacks taken seated at a round table; a small wood stove for comfort and perhaps for heating foods (less running up and down stairs while working on projects); and toys, books, games, crafts, and anything else that was part of our lives at the moment, ranged around to show what we’d been doing.

Well, at present, my attic is still a jumble of homeless items, cabinets that need final touches of installation and organization, bags and boxes of craft supplies and fabrics, and dreams. The floor is half-finished, covered in part by corrugated metal roof sheets (color: galvanized) scavenged from some defunct building. However, my craft cabinets, small round table, sewing desk and machine, and dreams are all still there. And the flooring is really a brilliant idea on my husband’s part, since it was simply lying around waiting to be used, and I wanted a floor more badly than I wanted a certain kind of floor. Admittedly, in my dreams, it had been hardwood of unknown sourcing, painted a bright country blue (similar to the color of my front door [link coming eventually]). Maybe someday it will be. I haven’t decided if it’s worth it. That may depend on just which dreams for this space I decide to pursue.

I don’t know why – and until today I never asked myself why – but every time I have envisioned the attic “finished”, I see, not just a crafts and guest-bed space, but a well-furnished apartment, capable of serving a single person or perhaps a couple very well. I don’t yet know why I feel compelled to make sure our home could do double-duty this way. Perhaps it is my long-standing desire to make sure that anyone who needs a home has it. Perhaps it is some plan I don’t have a name for yet.

The guest-quarters idea keeps growing. At the beginning, the room included space for two guest-beds, and a chair or two. Then, I conceived the idea of breakfast nook. Then, a dedicated study or project area, complete with dream board and files. Then, a balcony and container garden…more like an outdoor living room. I’m not sure where my plans will stop, or how many of them will prove to be practical. I’ll just keep taking it one step at a time, waiting for the space to tell me what it needs.

Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite ideas:

I told you I first envisioned a spinning wheel or wheels, and I must admit, the loneliness of this picture was inspiring as well:

Spinning Wheel in Attic

But first, the entrance. I have played with a number of ideas for the stairwell, including murals…

Mural in 2 Story Loft Area

…rabbits, toile-style…

Wallpaper Rabbit Toile

 

…and keys –

Wallpaper Border, Skeleton Keys

But nothing seemed just right, and definitely went with the rest of the room. So I kept waiting for the answer. Finally, it came, from someone else’s Facebook feed that I just happened to see:

Attic Stairwell Idea - Wallpaper Remnants

Yes, I thought, this will do. And I can use any papers or prints I want, so long as I varnish over them. Of course, pre-pasted wallpaper scraps would be easiest. But any fabrics, papers, or wallpaper remnants would be just fine.

The next thing that came to mind in a well-formed way was artwork. Here are some selections I like, though I’m not sure of their placement yet:

And of course, all kinds of organizing ideas for crafts and materials:

Yarn Storage idea Shoe Organizer with Pockets Furniture came next, including guest bed ideas:

Bed, Single, Curvy

Attic Guest Bed Idea

I don’t know what to do with the curvy single-bed idea, as it really doesn’t fit the rest of the picture, but I like it anyhow.

And shelves – lots of shelves, wherever they fit. A local house provided inspiration for shelves along the stairwell, and low spaces:

And of course, a comfortable place to dream and read:

Wicker Chair White, with Red and Blue Pillows

Attic Alcove Wallpaper All Over It’s actually not important to me that the chair is white or wicker…only that it’s comfortable, rocks, and is fade-resistant – since it will be placed in a large west window. Or, I can move my swing rocker from the living room upstairs, and just cover it when not in use. (I will probably want to anyway, as it tends to be dusty in the attic, especially in summer.)

I also felt fascinated by this chair, for its storage capacity (though I don’t think the shape is charming at all):

Bookcase Chair ComboThis stand-up desk is also appealing, though I can’t say why, as standing for long periods of time is usually a horrible idea for me (back and hips).

Desk to Stand at

Next comes an interesting piece of furniture, which at first I could not identify. It is a dentist’s cabinet:

Dentist's Cabinet

It looks like a fabulous specimen cabinet for all manner of collections made up primarily of small objects. Since my children and I are avid collectors of rocks, insects, plants (pressed), and other natural things, I wouldn’t mind having one.

This next piece…

Table Decouped with Map

…has no clearly defined place. I just like it. I had visions in my early days of motherhood of my children being as avid about learning as my siblings and I were. Combined, we must have had 4,006 interests that we were pursuing simultaneously. So I suppose this table represents this hope. As it turned out, my children are interested in many things, but my son, particularly, lacks curiosity for the sake of curiosity. He’d rather learn something only if he believes he can impress someone with it. (Naturally, the rest of us don’t feel impressed by this attitude.) Still, I have hopes. I have always been fascinated by geography, and have loved maps since I can remember. I think it runs in the family. Even my brother – who at first glance loved only planes, trains, and automobiles – learnt the words of our “Sing Around the World” Geography curriculum well enough to change the words to suit his light-hearted, mischievous spirit. (Regarding Greenland: “A land of icy snow, of fishy Eskimos…!”) Obviously, we were not alone in our fascination, since Tolkien and C.S. Lewis both made remarks about maps –

Edmund to Lucy – “That’s the trouble with girls. They never keep maps in their heads.” Lucy to Edmund – “That’s because we have something in them.”
And Merri to Pippin – “You should have spent more time studying maps and less time playing at Rivendell.” [Both quotes paraphrased from memory.]

Moving on to the breakfast nook idea. I’ve been through a lot of versions of this one, but one picture that caught my eye was this one:

Breakfast Nook, Black-and-Red

Also this one:

[Pic coming soon – Pic from House Dream Files – Trellis-and-Yellow arrangement]

Maybe I’ll combine the two: black seats (Black Satin Lacquer), and a trellis framework to set it off, yet still allow light to diffuse from the south window to the rest of the room. I’ll work on it.

Then too, here’s another idea that appeals, though it needs to be worked out for adult use:

Sun Room, Rabbits-Base Table

I love rabbits, and I love light. But the whole idea needs to simmer more. I don’t really want an all-white space, such as this – it is diffucult to maintain, and difficult to appreciate in the winter, which we have up to eight months out of the year. The floor in this picture is fun; I like  the indication of pattern without the stuffiness of actually having one. I like the trellis-work on the ceiling (more about this in a moment). I love the plants, and the daybed. The glass-topped table is wonderful (except for cleaning).

The ceiling in the attic has been a problem. I would have liked, originally, to leave the trusses exposed, and all the natural wood still natural, except perhaps for a clear finish. (It’s been unfinished since 1928, but the room also has not really been used. I think some protection of the wood would be wise – especially if I install a woodstove. Which, by the way, would probably mean that I took the little stove out of my bedroom, and re-installed it up here. Since we installed an efficient, large stove in the dining room, we haven’t really needed it in the bedroom.)

Back to the ceiling. After studying the problem, I decided that, yes, I would probably go to the extra trouble and expense to install insulation over the roof itself, so that the trusses could stay exposed. But this presented weight problems, as well as the trial of stripping the roof of layers of asphalt shingles and some metal sheets. (Having married a sheet metal worker and having spent our first seven years together on jobsites, I am familiar with this problem.) Finally, I found a solution. I intend to insulate between trusses and put on sheet-rock, as usual. Then I plan to install trellis-work panels over everything. This means I can paint any color I like underneath, and have the trellis-work more natural colored. It will be beautiful, garden-ey, springlike, and not claustrophobic feeling. Since the trusses are rough and I have to vacuum or brush them to clean them, nothing will have changed about the maintenance required.

Here was my original inspiration:

Trellis-Work on Walls, Kitchen #2

Trellis-Work on Walls, Kitchen #1

Below are two further inspirations for the feel I keep coming back to, for the sunroom or balcony area (haven’t made up my mind).

Sun Room, Built-in Bookshelves

Sun Room, Elegant with Ferns

I’m not sure why I always come back to white for private-type spaces. Maybe it’s my innate desire for cleanliness and order, which is hard to achieve in this land of dust and drout (sp.) At any rate, I doubt the final results will be white, as I also like loud bursts of color. Most of my house explodes with it like a woods in springtime.

Here are inspirations for the deck/sunroom idea:

They, too, need to simmer. Of course, since it will go on over the top of the back porch (which needs to be removed and re-built), the results may depend on what I decide the most crucial needs are there.

I am forever working out storage problems. One that appeals but that I do not see as being practical in this application is here:

Storage Spaces in Raised Floor

I also would like to build fabric (and maybe more) storage between the studs along the east eaves. I haven’t measured yet, but am thinking file cabinets may just fit between them, in which I can file fabrics in a mouse-proof way. Mouse-proofing is always the biggest challenge. Herbs, traps, poisons and deterrents only go so far. The mice lived here unmolested for 20 years, and just aren’t ready to surrender. If file cabinets do not fit, I plan on building custom drawers of a similar nature, and covering the faces (whether file cabinets or drawers) with cupboard doors. Here were my inspirations for this:

Attic Under-Eaves Storage Cabinets

Under-Eaves Storage Sliding Doors

And lastly, back to the maps again:

Wallpaper Border, Ships Wallpaper Border, Ship and Compass

These are wallpaper borders that I might put atop the shelves running along the stairwell. It looks fun. Whatever I do, I want to keep the whole attic space a balance of culture…

Wallpaper Border, Paris Street

…and wildness, like my life.

Branch Shelf, White

Update – February 2016 –
Shortly after I wrote this post, I had a lovely dream, in which I dreamed that my attic had a ventilated ridge, not louvred, but set with decorative glass which opened in panels (windows), similar to what has been done in these images:

Cut-GlassPlates Window, Long Horizontal

Cut-Glass Plates Window, Cascading Pattern Vertical

Scrap Glass Window, Blue Gold Crystal

Recycled Plates Window, Sphere Flower Design

Mosaic Glass Plates Window Design, Blue-ish

I don’t know what to make of the dream, beside that it showed me a potential way to integrate my obsession with dishes into something beautiful and useful. I need to  think about whether adding a ventilated ridge would be a good idea, or just a pain, and talk to myself hard about how much effort I am willing to invest in this sort of craft. I have a little experience with glass projects (stained glass), but perhaps the dream was just a fancy. I’ll let the idea ferment, and get back with you.

Update June 2, 2016 –

I’ve made another change, this time to the under-eaves storage cabinets. I’ve decided that I’d be better off with a different sort of fabric storage system (not entirely determined yet), and that the under-eaves space would be put to better advantage by installing glass-fronted, lighted cabinets for pretty things – dishes, quilts, old toys, and the like.

Also, I’ve decided that for the most part, I want pendant-style lighting (I’ll add pics if I think of them), and also, something a little more playful, along these lines:

Dragon Oil Lamp #2

I’ve also developed a list of Purposes for the Attic space, as well as some ideals for the emotional tone of the room.

Key Words: Creativity, Relaxation
Key Emotion: Bliss, Calm
Key Color(s): Wood Tones (red honey), black (black lacquer cabinets with detail painting)

Purposes –
Guest quarters
Reading and relaxing
Formal school sometimes
Crafts and sewing
Bird watching
Thinking and dreaming, planning
?Pets – birds, fish
?Snacking
Wool processing (except dying)
Dyes (in jars, on shelves on north wall – yet to be built)
Spinning Wheel (yet to attain)
Sewing machine
Sewing supplies
Extra fabric
Table for crafts
(?)Art materials (papers – construction, finger painting, drawing, newsprint, butchers, etc.), pencils, pens, magic markers, crayons, pastels, finger paints, water color paints – adult and child, acrylic paints, oil paints)

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1) Embroider where desired on pictures 2) Embroider with fancy stitching around patches (look up stitches in blue sewing book) 3) Embroider with fancy stitching at some of denim seams 4) Put together front and back, with yellow sheet center 5) Tie off prettily with full strands of embroidery floss

This project has been sitting in my “mending and sewing project” cupboard for several years, partly out of a necessity to attend to other projects, and partly because I discovered too late that the inherent fragility of this quilt is no match for Tyger’s energy and curiosity.

I still intend to finish this…maybe for a wall hanging, instead of a quilt. Anyhow, it’s desired, but not urgent. I am posting this here so that the project is made official, and my subconscious can get all the disappointments and details worked out, and I’ll someday wake up and know that now I can finish it.

 

 

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Colorado Wildlife is a sister blog to this one, wherein I share stories, pictures, and facts about some of the wildlife we get to enjoy locally. I am delighted by all the species we get to see on a regular basis – mammals large and small, all kinds of birds, reptiles and amphibians, amazing insects, and more.

Go to Colorado Wildlife now.

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When we first walked into the yard, it was so full of tumbleweeds, and the trees were so thick, I couldn’t see the house. Will had to tell me which way to go. I found this view of the old clothesline amusing:

Been a few days since it was used. 😉

These next photos were taken a little later:
   
I like the way the trees form a tunnel over the driveway, though we had to trim some when HEA came in to replace the worn power line.


When we first saw the house, it was clear that deer had been bedding down by the doorstep. Unfortunately, the grass has been partially destroyed by the fact of using the yard.

Here’s a view from the roof, from November 2010, when Will and I did an initial repair around the chimney. The trees are a great comfort. They give occasion for not only beauty, but many kinds of birds and other wildlife, and provide constant entertainment for the kids. Will’s sister calls the place The Hundred Acre Wood.

Beyond the yard, these are the things that immediately attracted my attention:


We had fun counting duck and other waterfowl species at the rainfall ponds down the road north of the place. The kids waded and did all the things kids do with ponds. We even took them out in a small aluminum boat once.


I tried to imagine, as I examined what was left of the corrals, what had been raised here, what systems had been used, and what the attitudes had been like. For instance, did those who had raised the critters enjoy it, or was it merely something that needed to be done? I had plans for goats and sheep, poultry, and perhaps other animals.

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I don’t believe I got any photos of my first bathroom sink, and this was very distressing to me, as I got to enjoy it less than a year. It was a tempered glass model, sitting on rather than being sunk into the countertop, and looked like green marble. It went beautifully with my red pitcher pump and red-toned counter.

It met its demise in an interesting way. A knowledgeable handyman had installed it for me, but we all failed to take one thing into consideration. (I’ll tell you in a moment what this was.) So my family and I were quite shocked one warm noon-time last summer to hear a noise as of shattering plate glass. It sounded like a picture window had fallen out. We searched the house, and on arriving in the bathroom, discovered that the sink had vanished. Instead, there were shards of glass all over the room. (Luckily, the door had been shut on the room.)

It seems that, over the exceptionally cold winter, during which we had suffered several months together of below-freezing weather – much of it below zero – the wooden counter top had expanded and contracted according to the moisture in the air, and had squeezed the sink. (The sink had been installed in warm, but not hot, weather.) Then, over the spring, as the weather warmed, the fit changed more drastically. Ka-BOOM! was the result. The shifts were imperceptible to us, but not to the glass sink.

I was devastated – I don’t often cry, but I cried – and began again a search for the perfect sink. I had one picked out, and was waiting until I had enough to spend on it. It was another glass basin – which we planned to install differently – and had flowers and butterflies embedded, with a sunny, June-time feel, looking like a spot of sunlight on the counter.

But, shortly after Valentine’s Day, Will brought home a surprise.

MostInCamera 084  May 2013 116

It is a Kohler brand basin which had been special-ordered at the local lumberyard, then never claimed. They sold it for a very reasonable price. Though it was not quite what I had in mind, I think of it as my Valentine’s Sink, and am pleased to say that it has since inspired other red things in the room. (I eventually want my bathtub and toilet painted red, and even thought about red wallpaper.)

Here are some other pictures, though slightly blurry, on account that Will has unsteady hands.

May 2013 140  May 2013 143

It is a nice shape and depth for washing – even one’s hair – and is extremely easy to keep clean. The bumpy cast-iron exterior is no problem, and wipes right off. (It is not visible from most angles.)

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This is a mile marker in my progress of making this house a home. Last spring, it seemed impossible to get the north sideyard tidied…and was, though I and the children improved it. Now, in late December, with unbelievably gorgeous weather, it seems possible to do anything I want here…provided I work within the parameters of the space and conditions given me by nature and my Creator.

We cleaned up shingles, broken glass, metal trash, and sticks, hauling things away in 5-gallon buckets. The metal trash went to our recycling stash, housed in a shed until we have enough for our scrap-hauling neighbor to go to the bother of removing it. Everything that could be burned was put in the burn barrels. Sticks that were suitable for kindling were piled were they could be gotten at when required.

All in all, it was a good day, and I am well pleased.

When the weather warms, I want to re-plant ferns along the side of the house, to soften it. At present, it is cold and rather barren looking, save for a few scrubby cedars, more like wisps of tall weeds. There are also some Belle honeysuckle bushes, which are lovely in season, but spaced awkwardly.

These improvements may need to wait until another year, however, as it would make sense to first do the reconstruction that needs done on the back porch. Will doesn’t really notice flowers, and will probably run them over with the tractor without a second thought.

I’ll bide my time.

Screw it! I'm gardening!

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Will gave me one of the nicest surprises just now. He is a wonderful scavenger, and when on a construction or handyman job, has a good eye for noticing what is stored in other people’s Quonsets and barns. At a recent job, he noticed a small, Swedish-style wood heating stove, new in the box. He bartered for it (he loves bartering). He installed it while I was gone, and when I came home, we had a cozy bedroom for the first time ever.

Wedding and Family Camp 007

(My apologies on the drowsy lighting of the photo.) It is a Vogelzang brand…not particularly high quality, but serviceable. It is a sweet-feeling little stove (you can see by the size of the bricks and fire shovel that it is not very tall), and, like most wood stoves, has a temperament and personality. In spite of the appearance that one can effectively cook and or heat a pot or kettle on top, most of the heat radiates out the sides. (This picture was taken some months after installing the stove, and you can see where the sometimes extreme heat has faded the paint.) This stove takes a bit more babying on the draft creation, during ignition, than some do, and doesn’t burn heavy logs particularly well…but is a steady little workhorse, all the same. It tends to be a heavy feeder, and the fact that it does not shut down air intake as completely as many stoves do, can be a drawback when burning lumber with much sap (southern yellow pine makes an inferno). The slide on the front is the main air-intake, and if one needs to limit it further than the closed slide allows, a coin (quarter) or similar object can be placed over the hole on top of the slide. The cleaning process is easy, though it can be messy removing the firebricks lining the bottom of the burning chamber. (The bricks that are beneath the stove on the floor have since been removed, as they turned out to be unnecessary – not much heat goes out the bottom, even with a moderate load of wood.)

We burn mostly elm and pine scrap lumber here, and this means that the fire may need coaxing and feeding three or more times a night, as elm doesn’t burn well above a smolder on its own, and other available woods tend to disappear rather quickly. But this is doable.

All in all, I am happy with my beautiful little Christmas present, and am comforted by the fact that I can have a quiet – and warm – place in mid-winter to play my violin.

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