Decorating

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Taking the pictures for that last post and walking around our house fills me with joy. We did this! We surround ourselves with meaningful objects. Some of them blend perfectly together, others are like a mix tape of all my favorite singers and bands, so very different individually but wonderful together, too. Every single one has a story. Here are these, starting from the top.

The Owl – when my Grandpa retired, he took up wood carving and wood burning, mostly birds. Until it became too painful for him to carve, he made probably a hundred different birds, and countless cars, trucks, and baby doll beds that he donated to children’s charities. My Grandma painted the majority of the pieces, painstakingly, layer by layer, though my favorites are the ones showcasing the beauty of natural wood. In addition to the owl, the duck, and the eagle I showed you before, I have a bufflehead duck that rests on my desk and two small geese.

The Birdcage Head – I bought this at my favorite gallery in Portland – The Guardino (which is still there – YAY!). I always loved the assortment of pieces there, in every size and price range. I realize now that I was attracted to this because it’s a bit like me – kinda bird-brained (see the crow below).

The Woman, the Geisha, the Succulent – Painted by Jamee Linton. No other artist is represented more than Jamee. We have nine pieces, not only because we LOVE her work, but because she is a dear friend. We met when I fell in love with the Succulent at Last Thursday on Alberta in Portland, more than a dozen years ago. I didn’t have the money to pay for it and asked if I could e-mail her to get it another time. She eyed me doubtfully, but we exchanged addresses anyway. The following weekend, we went to her apartment, met her mean cat, and bought the painting. It’s been an honor and a pleasure, both to be friends and see her work evolve.

The Cross – If you’ve been around a while, you know that I am not at all religious. My Grandparents and Great Aunt Mary were devout Catholics, and Aunt Mary (the holiest and sweetest woman I have EVER known) would have become a nun had she not returned home to care for her ailing brothers. The cross was in the hallway of my Grandparents house (which they shared with Aunt Mary for the last twenty years of her life) for as long as I can remember (until it came home with me). It is exquisite and blessed by Pope John Paul II (or maybe Paul VI?), with beautiful and teeny tiny mosaic work. It reminds me of the three of them, living happily together, and the best parts of organized religion.

The Red Flowers – Painted by my Great Aunt Mary. Mostly known for her crochet, for which she had MAD skills, it was a surprise to learn that she had once dabbled with paint. She’d do that sometimes, tell an off-color story, cackle wildly, down a Long Island Iced Tea.

The Crow – Have I ever told you that the Crow is my spirit animal? It’s true. Learn about them, and you’ll learn about me.

Napoleon – My favorite megalomaniac! My Dad is 100% responsible for my love for him. He loves war strategy, and Napoleon was particularly genius at it, so he discussed it often. I bought this print and the Crow etching on a tour of artist studios with my dear friend, Lori, an artist in her own right.

Carved Roses – Just like the cross, this was on the wall at my Grandparents until I brought it home to mine. I have always loved it.

Orange Map – No ordinary map, it is hand cut AND of our old neighborhood in Bellevue, Pennsylvania. If you were to visit, I could point to the exact location of our house on Euclid Avenue.

Red Painting – I won this at a charity auction!

And now, a playlist, all my favorite artists in one place:

Visions of Johanna – Bob Dylan

From the Same Hill – Brian Eno

They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Ella Fitzgerald

Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra

Naima – John Coltrane

Shadowplay – Joy Division

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin

I Loves You, Porgy – Miles Davis

I Grieve – Peter Gabriel

Goodbye Blue Sky – Pink Floyd

Daydreaming – Radiohead

Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones

Looky what we did!! Damn. We’ve worked so hard over the past eight months. The only bit left to do in the living room is the light fixture, which is marked by blue tape that we keep forgetting to remove. Ha. I will be taking some more photos for the neon wall, of course. I love neon!

Our new front door, which I absolutely love! It’s actually a shade of turquoise (and matches the cute stool), but it’s looking more baby blue here. The rabbits are coat hooks. The old school tennis racket was my Dad’s, and the painting is the one we bought in Crestone.

Our cool niche shelves, with new brackets. They hold a perfectly well-curated assortment of knick-knacks (my Grandpa carved the eagle and the duck in the photo above this one!), and have a nice view down the hall.

Our bright dining room! The original floor (which was also in the kitchen) was probably my biggest labor nightmare. It was one layer of crappy vinyl, one layer of plywood underlayment held down by about a thousand (I kid you not) one inch staples, and one layer of faux-brick tile under that. Oof, my poor hands.

But NOW, in the morning, the light of the sun warms my back while I eat and read. Happiness. I painted the closet door that terrific orange color to hide how badly beaten up it was. Not a single surface on the main floor was spared an update, and the reason why it took us so damn long.

The kitchen. YOWZA. In the first two photos, you can see where the sink and dishwasher (which when we first turned on the water became GEYSERS) were originally. You can also see that there wasn’t a place for a normal sized refrigerator. The giant window in the third photo was reduced by about a foot because it wasted a whole heck of a lot of wall space. Unless you were a child or a dwarf (Little person? I never know) any cabinet placed below that window would have been waaaay too low. I left the window wall without upper cabinets to avoid having the kitchen feel like a narrow hallway and to show off the hubster’s mad electrician skills. He installed all the cool lights; Restoration Hardware made them, however, every hardwired fixture on the main floor, actually. They’ve got my number.

The best and only view of the hubster’s office for the time being. What you can’t see? Shower doors for the upstairs bathroom. Purdy.

My office! Egads. I love, love, love it. The cool chest of drawers was my grandparents, and the hubster, when he needs a little break from work, sits in the chair next to it (he’s doing it as I type, actually). I like that.

Sanctuary!!

Boom! It is ON, and we are in the thick of it. The house is rocking and rolling, literally. It is loud, with five people moving and shaking, putting in new doors (top shot) grinding the metal of old windows (third) to put in the new (fourth). There is a shit ton of plastic and barriers because our house is sixty years old, and the paint tested positive for lead. There’s wood dust and dirt, and who knows what, with more to come.

The hubster passed his rough electrical inspection with flying colors, the plumber, too. I installed insulation Wednesday, and the drywall gets installed over it all today. A new kitchen floor happens next Wednesday, kitchen cabinets the Monday after that. Then a counter top, followed by pretty lights,  snazzy tile, a dishwasher, sink, range and hood.

Meanwhile, I make every attempt to maintain my sanity, trying to carve out a space, trying to keep schedules and everything on track. I succeed. I fail. I cry because I can’t find what I am looking for (door hardware, tools, paper, a pen). I cry even harder because Prince died too damn young. I listen to his music and feel a tad better. That which lasts, that which we can keep.

It’s gonna get better, surely, slowly. We’re on our way.

We’ve got quite the bounty of flowers in the garden now, roses, lilies, hostas, St. John’s Wort, marigolds, Russian sage, and more. The top two are echinacea that I planted in the spring. I had never seen white before, so there was a bit of suspense about how they would actually look. I am pleased as punch with my choice. As for the blue, I can only guess that it is somehow related to spider wort (tradescantia) based on the look of the flowers and foliage. The blossoms are about the size of the tip of my thumb, so you can imagine how tiny that bee is! I also saw a large and fantastic yellow butterfly on the lilies yesterday, but, as is often the case with butterflies, it’s presence was fleeting, floating up and over the fence right after I caught a glimpse.

We got the TV room painted! It was a rather icky shade of beige before, and though it wasn’t terribly dark, it sure did make the room feel it. So we are happy and keep lingering at the threshold, pleased with our work and the color choice.

Look at that ceiling fan whirl! Never much for them, we are Pennsylvania converts, the humid air just heavy enough to make one feel the heat when the fan isn’t going. Thankfully, they are all over the house, so we haven’t had much use for a boxed air conditioner. YET.

Must dash – I’m off to hear Bach at an outdoor concert. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Hullo gentle reader. Happy day after the final episode of Mad Men. Which we have not watched because we do not have cable (never have) and are impatiently awaiting its arrival to the Playstation Network, so we can get this business over with, and I can sob or jump up and down in anger, very likely both (UPDATE: Both sobbing and jumping, mostly sobbing. Thank you, Mad Men). I have been rewatching the entire series over the past few weeks, which has been heartening, depressing, and inspiring. That show!

To the photos. We painted! The foyer (with gorgeous landscape by my dear friend Jamee Linton), living room, and dining room are done, done, done. Warm and bright spaces make for happy occupants, truly. It is rather unfortunate that much more remains. You can’t have everything, at least not all at once. I should mention that the light fixtures are also new (Restoration Hardware if you’re on the hunt), installed by the uber-handy hubster! Lucky me, lucky us.

Dianthus, sweet and spicy and one of my very favorite scents!

Green! Our pint sized plot is really starting to come into its own. It’s been interesting to see what comes up and, of course, add my own touches, like peonies (of course!), lavender, culinary herbs, and wild flowers. Hoping the yard is teeming with bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies by summer’s end. I am also researching a few colorific (is this a word?) shrubs and the best evergreens for small spaces, as that wall-o-brown fence is much too much for the eyes to bear, especially in winter. Must have green!

On that note, how lovely is the giant sycamore just beyond our fence?! It is rather slow to leaf out, but it sure does it in style! The street scene is just down the block, though it could be any of our neigbhoring hills. All of Pittsburgh is cradled in green. What a marvelous treat after the browns of winter.

Also exciting, tremendously so, are the birds. It is a dream to see and hear such a wild chorus of song. At this very moment: Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Sparrows, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, and Finches! These same birds and more visit our feeder, too, much to my delight. We’ve also seen three varieties of woodpecker, more Starlings than we can shake a stick at (such savage beasts and sweet singers!), Mourning doves, Juncos, White Breasted Nuthatches, Robins, a Red-Tailed and a Red Shouldered Hawk (here for birds, not seeds), and, while they haven’t visited the feeder, we have delighted in the aerobatics of swallows and herons just above the trees. Squee!

Look! It’s like we’re actually talking.

Have a great day!

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