We've officially been in our new place for three weeks and for the most part have everything set up the way we want. We're just waiting on a little island for the kitchen and some doors for a shelf in the bedroom. I can't be productive until I have my space set up exactly the way I want it, so getting every detail set up has been a priority. I've briefly worked at my desk here and there, but excited to find a rhythm again. While we were moving I wasn't able to do any drawing, but I only have a couple pages and change left until the format of this chapter changes significantly.
Here is an unnecessary number of pictures to celebrate having everything settled in (finally)! Arranging the books into every nook and cranny has been a challenge, but pretty fun to figure out. Note the Harry Potter book collection in English, French, German, Dutch, Polish, and Italian... Also we get some great sunshine in the living room in the late afternoon so I've stationed as many plants and sun catchers as possible by the windows. I'm also really happy with the hanging glass float. I put some wire lights in the netting so at nighttime it's a gentle light source. During the day, it catches the sun. Before, this was hanging on our deck, and before that, in my grandparents' lanai.
Chris's desk for music is set up in the living room, while mine is set up in the bedroom. We figured I would need a quiet space where I could shut myself away to work without taking the living space out of commission. I put a lot of decorations out that I inherited from my grandparents too. I hadn't felt comfortable setting them out when we had roommates because many of them are breakable, so it has been nice unpacking and finding a spot for each of those.
I decided to do the same with a cross section of my snow globe collection from childhood. I still have a half dozen more tucked away in a box but these are my favorites. Bermuda, Baltimore Aquarium, Boca Grande, Endicott, 1000 Islands. The most fun snow globe to shake is the Aquarium one, because it looks like the dolphins are nosing through the sand. Another childhood collection that came out of storage is a stack of around 100 cardboard coasters. I've been collecting them for over 15 years.
Bathroom and Kitchen
An inevitable truth I had to face over the last couple weeks is that I have far more framed pieces of artwork than I have the wall space for. I have two suitcases filled with the surplus, and some large items stored in Chris's parents' attic too. I just hate clutter and that goes for wall clutter too, so I had to show quite a bit of restraint (doesn't seem like it though, does it?)
My various collections above the bed were such a pain to pack up and then rehang but I like the type trays clustered together in this way, rather than scattered throughout the space. I ended up numbering each item so I could just match them with the appropriate compartment rather than try to find a good spot for everything all over again. So far no rocks or coins have fallen on our heads. They were fine in the busy living room at our last place - I think only a seashell or two came loose over the course of 6 years - so I think we should be fine. (Knock on wood.... just not on the wooden type trays.)
I'm going to try and squeak out a few panels before dinner now. Glad it's a three-day weekend!
Had a few space improvement projects on the docket the last few weeks as a means of procrastination. I stained this natural wood dresser from IKEA that I've had for 6 years so that it would match the walnut woodwork. The ceiling fan in my room also used to have fake wood paneling that made it look like a creepy retro spider. So I painted it white. Why not!
Also, we had an armed break-in recently. What fun! Not in our apartment, but in one of the other units. While they were searching for the culprits, the police had a 24-hour stakeout in our building to see if they would come back. I baked some cookies for them as a thank you.
I recently made the impulsive decision to re-do my desk. Over the last seven years, I've had the same desk surface, which I've loved and continue to love. But it's been propped on a variety of things that haven't optimized storage potential (if you know me, you know how obsessed I am with organization and optimizing space). I've tried propping the wood panel on an old tv stand, and saw horse legs. But then it struck me that it would be nice to have actual *drawers* that I could *label*. So I ordered these two plain filing cabinets (I have another one that I was already using elsewhere) and miraculously it works wonderfully. My favorite part was figuring out what kinds of drawers I need and then using my new label maker to declare them. There's one for "Stationary/Greeting Cards", another for "Active Projects", one for "Unfiled Documents", and others for "Office Supplies", "Pads of Paper", "Coasters and Bookmarks", "Crafts Supplies", "Electronics and Chargers", and "Cosmetics". I think I'm missing a few, but love that now I know exactly where things are and don't need to dig through a bunch of piles or boxes before I remember where the box of acrylics is or the loose leaf paper.
BTW I recently blew through all of the Marie Kondo Netflix show, and it was very inspiring. I won't share the photos of the mess I made in our living room.
It's finally fall, which means Halloween themed paper chains have been hung (by toy company eeBoo), mums have replaced our pansies, and pumpkins have joined the ranks. Hasn't scared this bumblebee away though.
In a couple weeks, Chris and I are planning to spend the weekend in Northampton, MA. When Sam and Deidre got married in September, some friends stayed at a nearby Airbnb; Chris stopped by to visit and thought it would be a great place for a weekend trip, so he booked the soonest dates. Work has been really stressful lately, so I can't wait to take a long weekend and get away from errands and housework and responsibilities. Counting down the days!
My plants are doing well, and now that it’s consistently warm, a lot of my indoor plants are living outside. Including my small army of baby aloe. The mama aloe just keeps having babies.
My friend Kara recommended to me an excellent collection of essays by Durga Chew-Bose last year. Her reflections on the dream of having a porch always make me think of the deck I suddenly gained access to when my landlord had it redone (because it was previously condemned and had no railing). I feel like even though I'm renting this deck month by month, I've gained "some semblance" of the mythologized porch, which Chew-Bose supposes is a place for listening to a parent's stories. (Over the last couple years I've been trying to track down family storytelling with a recorder too, even if it's just me hitting record on my phone when stories come up in conversation.)
Here's an excerpt from Too Much and Not the Mood:
“There are nights when I go to bed a little foolish and pretend the world is a disco ball and that the stars are simply reflected dots. That none of this is too dire and how the impossibility of knowing everything is an advantage. Most children grow up and plan to, at some stage, sit with a parents, a pad of paper, a voice recorder, and listen. Most children, despite good intentions, never make it happen.
Perhaps we’re waiting for our porch. We defer, defer, defer, and make excuses until we’ve won life’s ultimate lottery: the porch. The kind that wraps around. There’s something neutral about the conditions of its build: inside’s privacy, but outside, it’s an extension that stipulates the promise of delay. Imagine if our foreheads had porches jutting out from them? Maybe our brains would experience some reprieve.
On porches, conversation flows freely because silences, while weighty, aren’t strained. The faint interruption of a neighbor’s car pulling up the driveway or leaves rustling, or the benefits of a view in August, kink the air pressure that might exist between two people. A breeze jangles wind chimes and gently jolts us from ourselves. It’s harder to speak selfishly on a porch. Even when it’s hot, no one overheats. Picking a fight on a porch means you’ve missed the point entirely.
So, until then -- until the porch or some semblance of it -- we put off the pad of paper, the voice recorder. We are self-centered. We are out with friends, yet curious why. We are running late. Mentioning things in passing. Not picking up our phones. Lying on our stomachs. We are ambitious, only kind of. Obsessed to the point of --not boredom -- but reprise. We are incapable of writing a letter of condolence. We are vulnerable when it suits us. Taking aim when wearied. Clumsily articulate when expressing intense feelings, like subtitles in a foreign film. We are in the midst of, or have just inched past, our stretch. We read a book that alters us but never talk to our parents about the books that change our fabric, so instead, the weather. The rain. The snow in April.”
-Too Much and Not the Mood
We've lived in the same apartment in Brookline for almost six years. When we first moved in, a friend's father built a wall between the living room and dining room spaces so we could make one into a bedroom (which is now mine). We never invested in making it look nice because we figured we needed to make it easy to remove if we decided to move out. But now that we've settled in and the landlord would likely want there to be an additional bedroom anyway, we chose to camouflage it a bit this weekend. Not bad for plywood, eh?
Since I graduated from college, I've accumulated a lot of artwork that I tacked to the wall to display. Recently I decided to give that artwork a bit more respect, and invested in some nice frames at Blick. I even framed some show cards from BFA and MFA exhibitions, which are like mini artworks alone. Amazing what some plastic/metal/wood + glass will do.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.