Thursday, October 13, 2011

Setting up house

The temps were in the mid 90's today, which is supposedly unusual for this area. The afternoon sea breeze is normally enough to cool us down, but it's still feeling really toasty tonight. We don't have AC, and the chocolate I'm munching on was already melted when I opened the package. It's a specialty Swiss treat Jon brought back from Hong Kong. Go figure.

Our life is beginning to take shape here. The work at our new church has begun, familiarity is at least in the realm of probability, happy surprises are around every corner, and we keep pinching ourselves because we can't believe how blessed we are!

A couple nights ago we ventured out to the ocean again to see the Red Tide. Amazing! It was like watching the Northern Lights in the waves. The water turns a bright, sparkly, almost neon blue when the waves break in the darkness of the night. It was God's handiwork on display, and a reminder to me that there's so much beauty in His creation that brings Him glory. In fact, this week we learned that even the stars emit sound waves that our ears cannot hear. They are singing His praises!

(Jack found this leaf with a perfect insect-made letter J. He carried it with him all afternoon.)

(J for Jack)

The work of unpacking is mostly completed, but I've simplified the process by storing boxes of things we can live without in the garage. The house that we are in is a temporary place to stay until we can find the right long-term place. It has less usable space than our previous house, and there is no way I could unpack all the special dishes and serving pieces, extra linens, and decorative items. Plus I want to avoid the extra work in repacking it all up again. Moving is almost like morning sickness-- you forget just how bad it is until you're in the middle of it again!

But this house, along with the undetermined length of time we will be here, is causing me to think carefully about how to make it home-y. It's a delicate balance between creating a comfortable place to live that is pleasing to the eye, and being practical and financially reasonable. Who wants to invest a whole lot of time and resources in a place that's not yours, especially if it's (hopefully) short-term?

On the other hand, a home is a reflection of those who live there and it must be a lovely and enjoyable place for the inhabitants and their visitors. I feel compelled to create some sort of beauty around me. I remember reading about the Viking women who lived in their little homes and villages alone for months at a time while their seafaring men were away plundering and such. Life would have been hard for them as they took on the responsibilities of those men, and their work must have been relentless just to survive. Vikings were unrefined, yet even those women were compelled to have a few items solely for aesthetic reasons. They had little pendants, carved hair pins, and decorated utensils.

I think that surrounding ourselves with beauty, whether simple or elaborate, is part of who we are. Seeking out, appreciating, and creating beauty is part of the way God designed us. So during this time of waiting, of "making due", I cannot neglect the fact that this is where we live right now. We need to LIVE here. It's my job to create a lovely environment and atmosphere, all the while remembering the reality of our particular situation.

But this house! It's a typical rental house, complete with dirty oatmeal colored everything! The blah-ness is staggering! The space is awkwardly laid out, and I am being stretched creatively. It doesn't even help that creativity is not my strongest point!

While Jon was in China, I must have been half thinking out loud when I described to the kids how we were going to decorate. Whatever picture frame that had been tucked in between blankets and towels would be hung up (without the weeks of considering and over thinking to find the best spot), and little to no money would be spent on furniture that fit better than our current pieces. Michael said, "Oh, it's kind of like doodling. You just have to start and see where you end up."

So yes, we'll see where we end up. It's not going to be a masterpiece, but hopefully there will be a little more visual interest. Some frames have found their place on the wall, and I'm waiting for Jon to give me a hand with some heavier items.

The only essential item we did not have was a dining table because the previous house had a custom made table that we used. While Jon was in China we had a little 2 by 4 foot folding table to eat off of and for the kids to do their school work. One day, tired of the situation and without the internet to find a table on Craigslist, we hit several thrift stores around town. We found this...

It had three leaves, but I threw one out because it had really bad water damage. My kids helped me scrub it clean, and when the rain came that night they worked at sanding it in the garage despite limited space.

Then, in the spirit of "doodling", we went to Lowes to pick out a paint color. The whole project is not my normal style, but because we have a bunch of different shades of wood currently in the dining area (light colored armoire to house the printer and office supplies, multiple shades and shapes of chairs, and a black buffet), I didn't want to add another wood tone to the mix. Plus, the dining area is dark and dreary, so I thought some color would be fun to try.

I had the primer mixed into the paint to save time and money, and I bought a spray semi-gloss finish. From the beginning my goal was not to end up with a perfect table, and I was determined to enjoy the process. I viewed it as a chance to try something new, and if it didn't turn out we could just get rid of it when we leave. It was nice not to have any pressure.

Here's what it looks like now...

Since moving it into the house I have added the two leaves, so we all fit comfortably with room to spare. The whole project cost less than $100, including paint to pass on to a friend. Sure beats IKEA!

I'm pretty sure it won't be our dining table when we move, but I can see it being used as a drink or dessert table for an outdoor party. Or, just maybe, for a dinner under a tree with an old chandelier hung above, or some simple tea light in hanging Mason jars!


1 comment:

  1. I am loving that color. I just painted our "chalkboard frame" that color! how fun that you have little helpers to sand with/for you :)


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