Saturday, April 21, 2012

House, Garden, and Other Things

I'm home alone right now, if you can believe it. If you were here, you'd want to take a picture, I'm sure, because this is an Event. Aelred is on retreat, the boys are at the Scouts' pancake breakfast, Crispina is visiting the Poor Clares, who may or may not want to keep her forever, and Epiphany is a thousand miles away doing whatever it is that college students do on a Saturday morning.

I have been uploading pictures from the camera, which I haven't done for ages. In fact, I haven't taken pictures for ages, because first we lost the camera-battery charger, and then I couldn't find the camera, not that it would have done me any good, since the battery was dead, which has also been the story of my mobile phone . . . anyway, the other day, lo I went into the bathroom and found the camera battery charging away in the outlet by the sink. That which was lost had been found, I know not by whom, though I can make an educated guess.

So here are some shots I've taken recently, to record the state of the garden, circa April 2012:

The vegetable and herb garden on the south side of the house, by the driveway. Not looking like much yet, but everything's in. Cosmos, which we direct-sowed, are starting to come up between rows of peppers at the far end.

Another view of the vegetable garden. 

Rosebush we inherited from previous owners. It's still a bit grass-choked, but is loaded with blooms this spring. 

Now here, in no particular order, because this is how they got loaded, are some pictures from inside the house. After three-plus years, this past winter we finally got around to painting -- that is to say, we had saved up enough money to pay someone else to paint (and that was interesting:  in the end we wound up paying two completely different sets of someone elses, which is its own story, the moral of which is that you do, in all kinds of ways, get what you pay for . . . and then some). 

Here, first, are some "before" shots of the dining room. Now, I love green. It's my favorite color, hands down. But somehow . . . in a room on the north side of the house . . . with no direct sunlight, ever . . . 

(Note: These pictures of the dining room are from the first winter we lived here. The table is set for fourteen, because we were having friends over after Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Note in the photo below that there's still a moving box in the corner. I forget when we finally unpacked that box, or what was in it.)

We made the best of it, with lots of bright pictures, which did sort of pop on the dark walls. And now I wish that an "after" photo of the dining room followed directly, but no! To get there, you must first enter the living room, which used to be yellowy off-white, but is now . . .

. . . still neutral! But I love it. Throughout the house we used this gray-y, taupe-y, stone-y color:  "Jute," by Benjamin Moore. And it's wonderful. It's cool but not cold, and very, very serene. The trim is Linen White, also by Benjamin Moore.

Here's one of my favorite spots in the house:  the end of the hall between the kitchen on the left and the study/library/schoolroom on the right. Here, in this funny little cul-de-sac looking out on the back porch, is where people crash with books and quiet, on-your-own schoolwork. As you can see, the dog enjoys it, too.

Ah, here's the dining room in its "after" phase. Not so dramatic, perhaps, but serene and versatile, and in lamplight, beautifully glow-y. This is Linen White, done on both trim and walls:

The window in our sunroom/music room:

Piano, with real-life post-Christmas clutter:

The home-magazine shoot I'd love to see. Speaking of real life:

Freshly-painted stair pickets.  Yes, one of my children did in fact pick paint off one of these pickets as an anti-taking-a-mood-break-on-the-stairs statement. They had been unbelievably dingy before, and I was unbelievably angry at that child for about an hour . . . you know, you ask for the grace to be more forgiving, and this is what you get:  more opportunities. 

Phone alcove, repurposed as shrine.

The window above the comfy loveseat at the end of the hall. The view onto the back porch is not so great (there's a reason why you're not seeing pictures of my back porch), but the deep windowsill, with room for books, makes up for that in spades.

The front door used to be white. Now it's BM Van Deusen Blue. My mother found that chair by the road years ago, and my brother taught her how to weave the Shaker-style seat.

The kitchen used to have busy striped wallpaper, the kind with vines loaded with grapes and eggplant, because you know that's how things are in real life. Now it's Linen White as well, which is both fresh and very warm, especially at night. Those things on the wall are framed land deeds dating mostly from the eighteen-teens, which my parents as newlyweds found  in my grandparents' house and framed, to have something to put on the wall. They're kind of off-center on the wall, because I wanted to leave room for some paintings of my dad's, which I have yet to have framed. That tablecloth is a 1940s twin bedspread which I found in our local junk shop. For a while it was on our bed, but then I decided to co-opt it for the table.

Oh, hey, back to the garden. (I'm in kind of a hurry here, and I don't have time right now to cut and paste these pictures so that the narrative makes sense). Now we're in the back yard butterfly garden-in-progress. It looks pretty scrubby right now, but the coreopsis are lovely:

As is the yarrow.

 Not to mention the hen-and-chicks. 

Here's columbine and fern outside the back door:

And suddenly we're standing in the driveway, looking at the front of the house:

As you can see, we have an oak tree, and our lawn is almost solid clover. Amicus cut it yesterday, so right now it's passing as verdant grass, but we know better. Anyway, the irises have been gorgeous.

Now, by the magic of computers, we're whisked to the back gate, and the little dooryard by the back door: 

Finally, welcome to our bedroom, where I'm sitting right now in the quiet and the sun at the window. This room used to be the same dark green as the dining room, only faux-finished:  it was like living in a green suede cave.  Like most of the rest of the house, it's now painted in Jute, with Linen White trim, and it's airy, quiet, and calming . . .

And would be a nice place to sit all day long, by myself, except that I'm already late for a scout planning meeting, alas alas. But you go ahead and make yourself at home.

PS:  Now that I'm home again and waiting for dinner to cook, I've gone back and enlarged the photos, so that you can see better. Well, I can see them better, anyway.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely peek into your private space - thank you!

Jan said...

Oh, whoops - that wasn't supposed to be anonymous...heh.

MacBeth Derham said...

At least you can tell your piano is a piano. Also, how do you keep all your surfaces so clutter free? I feel as though it rains paper here. Paper and dog hair. Paper, dog hair, and dust. Etc.

I love your house.

Margaret said...

Bautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!!! God bless your home and family! Sent with much love, Margie

Sally Thomas said...

Thanks, all. It's kind of fun to post house and garden pics occasionally, since I think about those things, in addition to all the other stuff . . .

Macbeth: these pictures are somewhat deceptive. Most of the indoor photos were taken right around Christmas, when I'd cleaned for the holidays, and the painting was newly finished. We'd had to clean and clear for the painters, and I'd just put the rooms back together. Still, it's funny -- I was an infamous slob all through my childhood. I was the kid whose desk lid never shut. And I can rack up some paper clutter even now. But I have become kind of zealous about not letting it mount up, because it drives me crazy -- in my own house, I hasten to add, not other people's. I don't notice other people's clutter so much. My own, on the other hand stares me in the face and is a huge source of stress until I deal with it.

Also, in this house I have closets. Closets are for hiding what you don't want on the dining-room table, if you get my drift.

I do love this house. I loved my little old house and still miss it -- I did paint that house with my own two hands and very little help, and I sometimes miss the efficiency of the smaller space, even as I'm grateful for the roominess of this house. It's wonderful, but sometimes a little overwhelming to keep track of. Our upstairs is totally no man's land, as that shot of Crispina's room is meant to suggest. One of the boys' friends is coming to sleep over tonight, and his mother keeps an immaculate house . . . I rather dread his reporting what my boys' room looks like right now (he might report in admiration and envy, but still). What closets are to me, floors are to them. And whenever I think about dealing with that, I find I have to sit down and put my head between my knees until the feeling passes.

Sally Thomas said...

I should add that new paint has made me very happy. I had agonized over color choices beforehand -- just ask Aelred how much fun I was to talk to for weeks on end in the fall, when we first proposed taking this plunge -- but in the end, two colors did it: Jute and Linen White. Our entire downstairs, except for the study which has stayed the old apple green, is now either Jute with Linen White trim, or just Linen White. To some people I guess this would be totally boring, but to me, it's just restful. I have plenty of stimulation in my life; I didn't need it on my walls, too.

Sally Thomas said...

Oh, I tell a lie. All the interior doors are painted a Benjamin Moore color called Iron Gate, a sort of dark, taupe-y gray. It's very striking and 1920s-ish with the lighter walls and trim, but I don't have a good picture where the colors are true. If you want to see, you have to come visit.

Willa said...

Thanks for the tour! I am trying to get inspired to do some home improvements this summer -- and I particularly liked looking at the paint colors on the walls. I love looking at gardens too -- our yard is still covered with snow and will be for at least a couple more weeks, so no gardens here for a while.

Sally Thomas said...

Hi Willa -- We missed having snow this winter, but I think I'd be tired of it by now. Have fun with your paint colors!

Anonymous said...

from Bill Foley

I aplogize that my comment does not apply to the article in question, but I have come across a paragraph that is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever read, and I want to disseminate it over the Internet.
Human Person and the Tabernacle
Paragraph from page 344 of Volume 1 of The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church by Father Juan Arintero, O.P.
“One day, at the time of Communion, Blessed Mariana of Jesus, the Lily of Madrid, being unusually aware of her lowliness and unworthiness, said to her Lord: “My Lord, the tabernacle in which Thou art is much more clean and beautiful.” Christ answered her: “But it cannot love me.” “From this,” said the holy nun, I understood how much more Christ prefers to reside in our souls than in gold or silver or precious jewels which are inanimate creatures incapable of love.”

Sally Thomas said...

Thank you.