Monday, January 25, 2010

In the Red Room

This is called a clerestory window. It's sole function is to admit light. It was buried under horrifying 1970's paneling, five layers of wallpaper, plaster, and something resembling chicken wire. I knew it was there because it was visible from outside.

Younger Son had just turned eighteen when we bought this house, and suddenly he was filled with decorating ideas. This was unexpected to say the least. He decided that the living room should be red, because it is warm and the room is the heart of the house. I was resistant, but Younger Son persisted, going with me to the paint store to get chips, to see how the color would look with the leather couch. The shade needed to be warm, with yellow undertones, not blue. He convinced me, and we chose Benjamin Moore Spanish Red. It complements the leather, and brings out the texture of the horsehair plaster walls.

YS wasn't finished. He had a plan.

"Now," he said, "We need a big, Baptist church ceiling fan

"Um... okay."

Who was this kid?

He called his friends, whom he was supposed to meet, and said he'd be late because he was going to Lowe's to help his mother choose a ceiling fan. This seemed to be cool with teen age boys. We found the perfect fan for YS's design ( gotta call it that!) for a British Raj gentleman's club. At the time, we had batik curtains, a rattan lounge chair, and a dhurrie on the floor. It all came together, and Younger Son is unfazed by his new talent. Maybe it was there all along and he never had occasion to use it. Now I consult him before doing anything to the house!

For another time: the story of the demolition of the living room and
Wm. the Brit's installation of the ceiling fan! For now, some good times in the Red Room!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Look what I found!

I would love this lady for the axe-wielding Kewpie alone, but look at her Christmas list!

This is my clothesline...

...on a spring day. I live in an old neighborhood that still has decades old clothesline poles in many yards (I 've always wanted to photograph them, empty, in winter when they look like strange metal sculptures). I love the way the clothes, especially the whites, look in the sun and wind. So does Older Son, the poet. Daughter makes fun of it and complains about "nubby towels," but when she was little she made dolls out of my clothespins. They wore tinfoil outfits.

I even love the act of hanging clothes on the line. I carry the basket out to the back porch in the morning sun, and I can feel the warm air, smell the flowers and take in the beauty of simple old city backyards. Mine is a very retro contraption: a pulley line from the pillar on the back porch to a metal crosspiece on the other side of the yard.

This simple (as well as good for the environment) pleasure is endangered in some places. Some communities' zoning laws prohibit clotheslines! But there is resistance, and even a documentary!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lo and behold!

I found some pictures! And yes, Gus knows he shouldn't be on the table.

California dreamin'

When we bought our 1920 house, it had suffered years of indignities. I am loving restoring it, but the kitchen is my favorite. There were TWO dropped ceilings and many layers of linoleum and asphalt tile (made w/ real asphalt, as I found out when I ripped it up myself). I had a picture in my head of a kitchen in a Northern California bungalow ( I have never been there), so I set out to make it real.

Daughter and I picked out sage green subway tiles for the backsplash and cream and sage marbled tile for the countertop. I got a lovely, deep, bisque-colored sink from Need Plumbing, and found a contractor to do the work, including putting in the two big windows over the sink. Did the painting myself (Benjamin Moore Indian White, on a serious discount for being the favorite waitress of the paint store owner!). Removed the cabinet doors, sanded, primed, and painted (Indian white on top and sage on bottom), and Older Son replaced the old hardware with new white porcelain ones from Pottery Barn. He even had to customize a couple of hinges with a hacksaw! Nice men from Cole Wood Floors blasted through the asphalt to reveal long-leaf yellow pine, which I Waterloxed because I don't like polyurethane. The color of the wood deepens with exposure to UV light!

So here we are. My camera went wonky after the first picture, but I will post more another day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting to know my family

This is an example of Older Son's sense of humour. Those fancy-pants private schools were worth every nickel!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kinder, kuche, kirche

The German school day has always ended at lunchtime! This makes working outside the home difficult for mothers, and the birthrate in Germany is very low. The situation is slowly changing, but there is societal opposition to mothers working. Modern Europe!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The content of our character

In honor of Dr. King, the incredible Boston Children's Chorus gives its biggest concert of the year on his birthday. Look, listen:

Look at that!

Welcome to EBR! Long ago, I was riding in my high-school boyfriend's car, pointing out the moon, a mailbox, an appletree, when he yelled, "You watch everything but the road!"

I haven't crashed yet!