December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ooks! Goofing Off Instead of Painting the Kitchen II...

I've got a few issues to deal with in the kitchen, and can't think about yard work or my little critters right now.

Darlings - take a look at THIS:


Where the hell am I supposed to put the line to stop the taupe paint? Where the soffit above ends is shorter than where the countertop ends on the peninsula below, underneath the upper cabinet, which is inches "indented" from the end of the soffit on top, and definitely not aligned with the end of the countertop, below!

Oy, look at that cluttered countertop, which is the real world and not cleaned up and "styled" for a  blog photo shoot. Well, this aint no fancy pants blog, that's for sure! This is real life, I am a single woman who works full time, trying to maintain my career, this home, a big yard and the equivalent of a second full-time job doing my chess stuff.  Geez, those cabbage-rose print sheers have got to go...but they really are pretty!


Look! I cleared away some of the crap off the countertop so you can see the end of it much better. And the problem of where to 'end the paint' is now made crystal clear, I think...

To the right of the peninsula is my dinette/dining area that is wide open to the family room. That wall (facing west) also holds a 6 foot wide patio door to the deck. There's not actually much wall surface. And, as you can see, my formerly white telephone that is so old it's turned rather creamy yellow with age (I'm not a smoker so it's not that) is placed in such a way that it would be difficult to run some kind of moulding from the top edge of the counter to the ceiling. I'm not inclined to go that route in any event, first of all because I'm no damn carpenter, second of all I don't have any moulding just sitting around waiting to be used and thirdly, I think it would just look silly cutting the wall off in such a way with a smidgeon of inches on the right before the soffit above and the countertop below, appear.  Just to get a straight line of paint?

No way, says Hera, Goddess of the House and Hearth.  HEAR ME.  Okay, okay!

Soooooo -- after thinking about it for all of, oh, two seconds maybe, there are two easy solutions: (1) DO NOT PAINT. (2) Paint the entire west wall (the wall that includes the patio door) in the dark taupe color.

While I was thinking about this, I swept the kitchen floor. I caught up in the broom what I thought was an errant bird seed (the seed winds up all over the place when I pour it in the cup every morning to toss out for the birdies) but it was a daddy long-legs spider. Damn!

I HATE bugs. When I see one in my house in my living territory (they can stay in the basement okay, I won't bother them down there unless one wants to do battle for territory), no matter what time of day or night I get the vacuum out right away and hunt it down relentlessly, and even stand on stuff to get it and sometimes fall off of stuff to get it, like if it's on a ceiling. I've fallen off chairs; I've fallen off the toilet in the upstairs bath; I've fallen off my own damn bed whilst trying to balance on tippy-toe on the edge of it hunting down an errant black "crab" spider on the ceiling, EEK!

But daddy long-legs I leave alone. They are so harmless and delicate. This one I didn't realize was even a spider until a sudden movement caught my eye on the floor as I was sweeping everything into a little circle in the middle of the room in preparation for sweeping it into the dust pan, and there it was, scampering away as fast as it could. I let it go, waiting impatiently for it to find a hidey place so I could safely sweep again. Of course, wouldn't you know it, it ended up nearly back where I first swept it up, but disappeared into a crack to go inside the lower carousel cabinet. I hope it goes WAAAAYYYY in the back and stays there. If it parks by the pole where the shelves turn it will get crushed as the carousel (lazy-susan) turns, should I start hunting for something on the upper or lower shelves.

Am I crazy for letting daddy long-legs go? Does anyone else out there do this? There was an ancient daddy long-legs who lived in my first floor bathroom for at least a year - always in the same spot, I checked it every day (no way to get close enough to tell the gender -- are they all girls?) There it would be, camped out. A couple of times when I was cleaning and sweeping in the bath I accidentally hit it with the broom and it was still alive after months and months, and it went scampering up the wall. I would finish up and leave as quickly as possible. One day, I didn't see the daddy long-legs and it did not return. So maybe it went to the DLL (daddy long-legs) Happy Hunting Ground.

Recently, in the living room, I swept off what I thought was a cob web near the junction between wall and ceiling where it begins to slope upward (I have a 2 story sloped ceiling in the living room) and was vacuuming away at the carpet when suddenly -- how do I see these things when I can't read to save my life without my Walgreens magnifiers on? -- there was this little bead scrambling frantically over the top of the carpeting back toward the wall. A daddy long-legs! It was a little black speck on the ceiling that I had swept away along with the whispy web. Guess who's back up in the same spot on the ceiling in the living room?  Yep.  Little black speck.  I made a point of pointing "it" out to Terry, my cleaning lady.  Don't sweep up there, I told her.  Okay, she said.  Terry "gets" me.  Thank Goddess!

How can I have a House Beautiful when I have daddy long-legs living with me in relative peace and harmony?

None of which answers the question about what the heck I'm going to do paint-wise with my kitchen. Logic tells me to not even attempt to paint it anything else except all the same color - and since the white I originally painted it when I was much younger and still had energy is still perfectly serviceable even after 21 years, what the hell? Right? Right? Leave well enough alone and all that.

But stupid me - I decided to paint the west wall (what there is of it) in the taupe paint. That inspiration picture HAUNTS me, HAUNTS ME, I TELL YOU! BWWWAAAHHHAAAAA!


How can any real woman's kitchen actually look like this, I ask you? But there it is. I want this fricking kitchen. Aint gonna get it, of course, unless I go totally, absolutely mad and take down the ceiling fan and put up a "chandy" (the word makes me want to puke) instead. I mean, really? A FRIGGING CHANDELIER IN ONE'S KITCHEN? Who the hell is going to clean all the greasy build-up off the crystals? Going to toss away those little shades every other month and put up new ones, are you? REALLY? Oh, just have the maid do it... By the way, is that some fruit turned black and petrified sitting up there on that window sill???

Remainder of "before" photos:


The east corner of the kitchen. As you can see, there is a sliver of wall where the cabinet DOES NOT MEET THE doorway. Damn! I'm going to paint it taupe from the top of the doorway down because the wall behind the fridge will be painted taupe and I don't want a silly quarter-inch line of white running down the wall - as if I could even do it straight to begin with! As you can see, since it's just me, I don't have a massive fridge that fills the entire space up. I have been toying with the idea for years and years of putting a bookcase in that space to hold junk and clutter - but maybe that's not such a good idea, since I seem to be a junk and clutter person when I have space to put junk and clutter. Something about 5' 6" tall, 11" deep and 36" wide would do the trick. Yeah, try and find that in ready-made!

That's the living room beyond the short hallway, where staircase to the upper level is opposite entry to the downstairs powder/room 3/4th bath. As you can see, my front door opens up directly into the living room. My house is not glam but I love it anyway. Big brown door on the left is to the basement, where my washer and dryer are, sump pump, assorted storage. Bugs, too. Although Terry cleaned down there this week with my newly-purchased wet/dry vac, so at least all the dead bug carcasses are gone now. Thank Goddess for Terry! By the way, she thinks the kitchen will look fab painted in dark taupe.  Oh and yes, that is one of those NIPPLE lights (GASP!) in the short hallway, just in front of the smoke alarm.


Holy crap, look - dirty dishes on the countertop, and the innards of the vacuum from the other day whe Terry was here to do the cleaning instead of moi. I've got one of those new-fangled cup things instead of a bag vacuum and Terry conscientiously cleans it out after she vacuums the house. There the innards sit until I figure out how they go together yet again snd snap them back into (more or less) the vacuum. The dirty dishes are from the steak dinner I made for myself last night. Now honestly, darlings, this just is not a "chandy" type of space. I mean, check out the glam view through my kitchen window. My neighbor's shed and my neighbor's house - and a utility pole - with dangling wires. LOL!



North wall of kitchen. As you can see, my space is small but set up in the classic work triangle, and it works well. Sink on west wall, stove and oven on north wall, microwave on countertop on east wall, along with the fridge (out of view). Peninsula, where the Norfolk pine sits, is on the "south" end of the kitchen and separates the working kitchen from the dining area. The kitchen is probably 11 x 11. Lots of cabinet space, a plus. Shitty job of cabinet installation - definite minus. I didn't realize until some years later and watching many episodes of This Old House, and other home improvement shows on PBS, etc. that I'd been screwed over by my builder. The model featured medium oak cabinets that fitted perfectly into the space. I hate medium oak. Always have, always will. I opted to "upgrade" to white Merrilat cabinets with a matt melamine finish and - at that time (December, 1989), the new "faceless" look. Hmmm, not sure that's the correct term but as you can see, there aren't any spaces between where the cabinets doors begin and end -- at least, there's not supposed to be.

As you can see if you look closely, the cabinets are NOT the same size across the back of the kitchen - they did the same screw me over job on the bottom row of cabinets. The fillers installed aren't evenly balanced, either. But instead of coming to me and saying "hey lady, these substitute cabinets you want aren't going to fit into the space the right way, what do you want us to do?" They just went ahead and put in these cabinets instead of asking me if I wanted to spend some more $$$ to get two larger (and matching) cabinets for the right side of the room (upper and lower cabinets), and I didn't see them until the final walk-through of the house. Yeah, I had a checklist but I wasn't paying attention to how the cabinets were installed, I was primarily focused on the fact that there were actually white cabinets with the proper handles in the kitchen -- except for the hole they left for a non-existant and never-to-be-installed dishwasher. That's another story.

The cabinets themselves are top rate and are still in excellent shape after all these years. The white, which has gone in and out of fashion continually over the past 21 years, is currently back "in" fashion. Stove is new - purchased in December 2010. Hey look! My painted owls are in the left hand corner! Cheapo set of knives I inherited from one of my sisters still there - I use them on occasion and most of them are still sharp enough to get the job done that I need to get done, including sawing through the occasional log...

Box on the right holds hazelnuts for the squirrels. You can also see my croissants and butter container out from this morning's breakfast. This photo does not show you all the crap piled on top of the microwave...



East wall of kitchen. There's the new fridge, purchased at the same time as the stove, in December, 2010, from the now defunct and bankrupt Appliance World Milwaukee. Sigh. Good thing I was too cheap to buy the extended warranty programs! Please ignore the empty wine box next to the fridge. That goes into recycling since it is corrugated. American branded wine! BUY AMERICAN, LADIES!

So there you have it. Red-tailed squirrel, back yard in dire need of clean-up which it ain't gonna get today or maybe tomorrow, either, and my kitchen with funky soffit area and uneven cabinet installation. Oh, and small fridge, too. Yeah, it's tacky to have chess pieces marching down the side of one's fridge. What can I say? And notice how the overhead cabinet juts "slightly" out (only by an inch or so) beyond the end of the soffit?

Such is life at Maison Newton. Hmmmm, why does my kitchen look two-toned??? I can assure you the top cabinets and walls are not creamy-yellow (unlike my antique wall phone)...

One more comment: I know this is going to sound really crazy, but decorating is a lot like a chess game.

Chess is a series of moves, it is true, but players who are "in the groove" move their pieces according to an inner "voice" that only they can hear, and it's like the pieces dancing across the board in a pattern that only the maker can perceive -- sometimes not even wholly, as the pieces almost seem to move themselves with no conscious direction from the human hand. Layers and layers and yet more layers, as the moves increase and the other player responds, and ultimately, a unique weave is created.

If the music from this movement on the chessboard sounds dissonant and the patterns of the weave seem random and not appealing to the eyes, well, that's just because we're not looking deeply enough. Just like the best of decorating is done in layers, from the largest pieces (furniture) and the largest flat planes (walls, ceilings, floors), to the smallest, most intricate details (accessories, trims, fringes, matt colors in a piece of art or around a photograph), it takes a thankful (even awe-struck) eye to appreciate the intricate beauties of a chess game as it is being played, and afterwards, looking at the moves and playing through the game, one move at a time, to get the feeling-tone of it.

It is the same in decorating. There are elements in decorating, as in chess, that cannot be readily defined - or even taught. It is learned to a certain extent, yes; it is part science, yes; it is part art, yes; but it is also so much more. I think that it is fundamentally a part of being human beings - that Divine Spark, if you will, that sets us apart from amoebae! It makes us yearn, crave, for more, always more. It is the expression of our creative urges demonstrated in a myriad of different ways. It is mathematics - the mystery of numbers, rhythym and pattern; it is music, it is an expression of soul movement. It is Life.  It is Love.  Decorating one's space, like playing chess, is the reaching out of the human spirit to create something unique and individual. Perhaps it is Goddess/God.

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