What a difference half a day makes

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Normally when I travel to work instead of working from home, I’m away for a total of twelve and a half hours. And normally I try to actually work all that time on the bus and the train, so as not to waste it. Needless to say, I’m exhausted when I come home, and there’s nothing of the day left. All I have time and energy for is dinner, an episode of a TV series, and bed.

Today, inspired by the new insights my bullet journal is giving me, I decided to change it up. I mean, is it worth it to run myself into the ground just to be able to shave off a few hours on Friday? No. So today I worked an ordinary eight hour day instead, and the results were amazing.

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I had so much time! I could photograph, and edit, and write, and all sorts of creative stuff that really is my lifeblood. And as if to cheer me on, the sun came out the moment I came home, and it stayed out while I strayed through the woods and snapped my photos. It felt like I was out there for an eternity, and yet only two and a half hours have passed!

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No matter how tired I am, the forest always manages to rejuvenate me.

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I can never get enough of these seeds!

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I’ll be honest: once I got home again and started loading all my photos into the computer, I did feel a teensy bit tired again. I mean, I did wake up at 4.30 this morning. It’s just that I forget about being tired while I’m out there in the forest, crouching in the moss to capture those backlit leaves.

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But being tired is fine, because you know what? Tomorrow I’m changing it up again and taking the 8.40 bus instead of the 5.35 one and staying later at work.

Variatio delectat!

Making a museum

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One of the perks of living in an old house is that you never know what you will find. In attics and basements, in outhouses and barns, you can discover old junk that someone stored there ‘just in case’. Things that first lost their value in the onslaught of the modern, but since then have gained another kind of value through the romantic tint of Olden Stuffe.

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During our latest stay at the cabin, we started cleaning out an old barn in order to display some of these old things in a museum-y way that heightens that value. You only have to put something in a frame or a context to make people see it in a more positive light. What looked like rubbish just now, lying thrown in a dusty corner, is suddenly a relic, an artifact. Like these old cake tins.

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It takes some doing to brush away the filth of the decades, but it’s very refreshing to survey the result.

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And windows that sit in the cracked old concrete walls of a barn where cows were once kept can suddenly become picturesque just because you put some ancient paraphernalia in them.

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Pretty, isn’t it? So let’s ignore the piles of still-unsorted junk right outside the frame…

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Art, artsiness, and pretty things

This is art. We know this because it’s called art by people who know these things. In this case, it’s art that I love. It was made by Mats Caldeborg and is called Himmelsförsök och Hund (rough translation: A Try for Heaven and Dog).

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But it’s kind of rare that I love visual art that’s officially recognised as such. I have no patience for naivistic painters or splotches of colour. Others love it, great. I want to see what it’s supposed to be.

Like these pictures I got at a second hand shop yesterday. I actually hesitated before buying them, only because I was worried they were too vulgar. But so what? I liked them. They fit my hallway. Why is this even an issue?

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Because of prestige. Because liking figurative art, especially if you like it indiscriminately (as in, I’ll hang any old picture of a flower or a boat on the wall as long as it looks like a flower or a boat), is looked down on in some circles. And I get it, I really do. I want my movies to make me think, and I like music that surprises me. I’m not always in the mood for anything lightweight there. But when it comes to visual art, I just don’t want to have to work for it. I want it served on a silver platter. I want it to be pretty.

Because I really love pretty things. Kitschy, vulgar, glittery things that shimmer and sparkle and have lots of colours. I want it to be over the top and gaudy, otherwise what is there to look at?

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Sometimes I think I’m caught in some kind of time warp where I’m compelled to buy things I would have adored as a ten year old. It’s definitely the case with fabric, since I am in no way a seamstress, and yet I can’t help buying all these pretty swaths of cheap, spangled material that I never find a use for except to hang from the ceiling in my Indian room.

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It’s how I write too. Some people would probably call it purple prose. I call it verbal painting, music in words. What’s the point of text if it’s not beautiful? Over-burdened, yes perhaps. And there is also beauty in simplicity. But to translate a feeling into words, you either have to create a situation for your character that sparks the same reaction inside the reader, or you have to create the image for them by conjuring glitter and sparkle with the help of language.

It’s an age-old battle between the ornate and the minimalistic, and neither is an obvious winner. Sometimes you need the baroque, and other times a bare space.They’re different modes that speak of different things. So yes, I love the riot of colour in my home, but I also love artsy black and white photographs of musicians.

Which is all to say fuck all really. 🙂 Here’s a couple of artsy black and white photographs of a musician.

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Floored again

Yesterday I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for about a year: laid a floor on the landing outside one of our front doors (long story, don’t ask). It’s been an eyesore – ugly plastic carpet with paint stains – but now I suddenly had the energy to do something about it.

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About a year ago, I started on this tiny space by painting the frankly revolting wall green, but I never got any further. The floor is only three metres square, but it’s still a proper project, you know? You still have to drag out all the STUFF and you have to THINK and DO THE THINGS and you’re working in ergonomically horrible positions and it takes time.

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But I’m a firm believer in waiting until your natural instinct – your body – tells you to go ahead instead of working against your energies. So this time, even though I should have been scraping the facade, my instinct guided me to lay floors instead. And because I obeyed that hunch, it went splendidly. 🙂

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And the SATISFACTION. So worth it.

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Roman update

Work progresses slowly in the Roman room. Last night I surprised myself by putting in several hours of work – on a day when I’d promised myself not to budge the fraction of an inch from the TV sofa. But it turned out that scraping old floors was the perfect antidote to a goddamn aneurysm over the many stupid flaws of the education system. Win-win.

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I’ve been spicing up my videos with royalty free music, so you might want to have a look at my latest effort – tongue firmly in cheek. 😉

This old house

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I think I’ve only shown you pictures of pretty parts of the house, but believe me, it’s an ongoing battle to make this dump habitable! 😀 That’s why I’m trying to document the process – to be able to look back at how horrendous things were before we did something about it. It’s so easy to forget what went before – you just put in hundreds of hours of hard work and as soon as a problem is fixed, you get amnesia and/or only focus on the next one.

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One big project is the facade. Half of it is painted red – the only part you’ve seen, I think – and this summer we’re planning to paint the rest. It’s in pretty bad shape – and it’s the wrong colour. The cinema is called Röda Kvarn, after all (Red Mill/Moulin Rouge), so the house better be red, right?

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Yesterday, though, it rained all day so we couldn’t work on that. Instead I started on a random basement room where we’ve just stored Stuff. It’s in horrible shape. I won’t bore you with the gory details, but you can see for yourself that it’s not exactly cozy.

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That floor! *shudder*

Every time I’ve passed that room to get something in what used to be the shop part of the house (the previous owner’s father sold men’s clothing), I’ve sort of stopped in here and surveyed the space, wondering if there’s anything at all you can use it for. And yesterday it struck me how to combine function and form.

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To be honest, I dithered a bit at first. Hubby suggested white for the walls, and I was on the verge of agreeing because it’s cheaper and reflects light. But the room didn’t really want to be white. We really love colour, and it felt like a waste to paint this room a dreary non-colour just for scrimping purposes.

So. I pored over our collection of random paint buckets that we’ve gathered over the years when they’ve been on sale, and there was this one tomato red that was sort of nagging me to “Pick me! Pick me!” So finally I did.

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The inspiration for this colour scheme is the HBO series Rome, so I’m trying for a “marbled” effect (on my level of expertise, which is zero). Suffice to say I’m not trying to make the paint completely cover the stone everywhere. I want that rugged, withered look, so that when we eventually store wine in here, it’ll feel properly Roman and ancient.

Unfortunately the paint was really glossy, and I tend not to check that kind of thing beforehand because I’m soooo spontaneous, so the next step will probably be to a) sandpaper the surface a little, b) fill in the white spots with a rag dipped in diluted ochre yellow, and c) maybe incorporate an intermittent pattern of gold. We’ll see.

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For the pathologically interested, here’s a short video. 🙂

Moving Pictures…

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… and other stuff, but who can resist a Rush reference?

Anyway, there’s a small room with slanting ceiling on both sides that I’ve used as an office, but I’ve always felt that it was underused and difficult to organize. There are so many dead spaces and weird angles that if you put furniture in the corners, you either bang your head when you get up from sofas and whatnot, or it makes the room feel cramped.

It used to be ugly as well, but I fixed that the first year that we lived here. That wallpaper is some sort of speckled grey, and the floor used to be a yucky dull green. It’s painted a light grey now, but I’d like to put some laminate flooring in there sometime.

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For the longest time, it was decorated with nostalgic stuff like my childhood cuddly toys and mementoes from my trips to England, and I wrote my novels at that desk.

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I tried to make it both an office and a sort of tiny living room, so you could both work and read for pleasure, but it never functioned like I’d envisaged it. Neither of us ever sat there just for fun, so the space used for sitting was wasted.

And the other week, I read a blog post from my favourite blogger who was redecorating her studio, and it struck me: I could make this room a kind of studio as well. It’s a small room, so it wouldn’t be a studio in the traditional sense, but the light is really nice, it’s high up and the window is to the north, so it could really work. The challenge is to use the space creatively and efficiently, and that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.

Another problem with the house has been that we don’t really have any designated area for artistic stuff – pictures, photos, colours etc, but turning this room into a studio would solve that problem. While it does seem a bit wasteful to dedicate a whole room to pictures, paints and brushes, when I started organizing it all I realized that we actually do need that much space for them. We’ve had all our paintings and artist’s materials in the attic, and I’ve lived with constant lowkey worry that they would be ruined by damp or cold. And also we never used all the things we have because who can be bothered to go into the attic just to fetch a piece of paper?

So, a change was in order.

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All that fine art paper that used to sit in boxes, unused, was ripe for sorting into piles according to colour, size and quality.

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This worthless desk (horrible for sitting at but picturesque because it’s made out of old sugar boxes) now hosts paints, ink and crayons.

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A shelf for the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the desk.

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I threw out the sofa I never sat in and left a single chair.

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All our pictures and paintings are now gathered in one place. Like these efforts from when I was ten, fifteen and eighteen.

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There’s even an easel, which has been kind of difficult to find a place for but which is now allowed to take up quite a lot of space.

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The standing desk doesn’t really fit in with the whole artistic vibe, so we’ll see how long it gets to stay. There’s not really any room for it anywhere else, and I still need a novel-writing nook. Pity not all work stuff is pretty. There’s only so much you can do with a computer screen…

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Careful carpentry

I’ve mentioned that we’ve had a balcony built, and it’s on the attic floor, so there’s a need for some floor laying so we can actually reach the balcony. We’re also waiting for a door, but we’re hiring a carpenter for that job. The floor is doable enough for an amateur, though.

Today the work began.

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Well, hubby worked, while I mostly took pictures… I did some work of my own, though, but that’s for another post.

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Half of building something is thinking.

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There was a lot of saw dust, but it looked really atmospheric in the warm light.

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You find all sorts of things in an old attic. Money, toys, and ancient newspapers.

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Seriously, the light up there… When everything is made of wood and the window faces south, it really makes for a warm glow.

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