attic us

okay, i’ve been at it over a week now, this being the following monday.  and the attic is still not where i wanted it to be.  i thought that perhaps by thursday it would be done, and i’m still laughing about that.  hahahaha.

when last we left our heroine, she was hoping the rolled up carpet didn’t get peed on sitting on the glider on the porch all night.

and if it did, she didn’t stop to check, but dragged it back upstairs in the morning and unrolled it into the far southeast corner, snug up against the eaves.  all 144 sf of it.  a kind of greeny yellow with gray overtones.

that was saturday morning.  then i borrowed a shopvac that turned out to be on its last legs, but before i unplugged it in fear i got three 4×8 squares of plywood vacuumed.  they are a most attractive shade of pale gold when they’re not covered by 30 years of dust.  after that i had to sweep and mop to get the dust up.  and you should have seen the bucket when i was done.  i had to carry the dripping mop thru the house after dumping the bucket (hazardous waste don’t you know), and it left black spots that dried on the floor.  just one more thing i have to take care of.

so the whole day’s work can be summed up like instructions for shampooing.  clear, sweep, mop, repeat.  i moved all the stuff out of the way, swept raising as little dust as possible, mopped with filthy water just to get the dust up, not to actually clean anything, let it dry, and then rolled a rug down over it.  we had two big rugs sitting in the attic, and five or six small ones of various quality and condition.  and now they’re down over the entire cleared space of the attic.  which consists of the east gable thru the southeast wall and all the way to the stairs in the middle.

to do the east gable i had to take up a bunch of old flooring and redistribute it.  it was kind of scary working around the place where all the ducts come up to the furnace, because it’s like a black hole in the middle of the house.

unfortunately, we’re having indian summer at the moment, and the attic fan is coming on around 11 each morning.  which means it’s getting hot in the attic.  so i’m up there, in sweatpants, socks and shoes, and it’ s 90 degrees and climbing.  sweat is running down my nose.  i’m moving very very slowly and taking lots of rests, panting in the heat in my little chair.

i’ve been moving my little chair and the file cabinet with the stereo on it all around the attic in the past days.  it goes to the clear spot.  it keeps migrating.  i really wish i’d put up a camera and taken shots thru this whole thing.  it would show migrating piles of stuff, first piled up here and then there.  chasing itself around and around while only gradually do things begin to stay in one place.

so when i ended the day, i think we’re all the way to sunday night now, so i’m thinking i spent two days cleaning and moving stuff so i could put down the rugs.  even tho i take breaks and do ritualistic things at the end of my work day to separate myself from the process, it’s blending into itself in my memory as if i’d been cleaning the attic forever.

my ritual is to go down to the bathroom, strip off all my clothes and leave them in a pile, dampen a washcloth and wipe down all exposed skin, and dress in clean clothes, in this case a pants wrap i think i might have invented, new socks, and a cardigan.  and then i mix up a medicinal quantity of wine and grape juice with herbs, and sit on the porch swing and read.  it’s wonderful.

but enough of that.  this morning saw me up in the attic finally starting to move paintings back into the stacks where they’re going to stay.  this took nailing some boards up to act as uprights.  i’m telescoping what i actually did here, i notice.  in fact, the floor of the east gable got rearranged today, not yesterday.

in fact, jim nailed a 4′ board to the top step, which has never had one until now.  and i evened out the obstacles you’ve got to go thru before you reach the middle space of the attic – right after you get over the top step, you’ve got to get over a 4″ pvc pipe and a foot later a 1″ copper pipe running over the flooring.  so i put boards in between and now it’s a series of shallow steps down onto the attic floor (the step was high because they were going to have to put a floor on top of the rafters to turn it into living space).

so a lot of stuff got dragged out of the east gable this morning, and stuck somewhere, and the flooring was rearranged, and then the smaller rugs went down over the east end and stuff got put back into the space.

the first thing that went there was a table, a rickety thing that had been leaning against the flat files which are my main workspace.  it leaned against an upright next to the duct black hole, and i piled an enormous amount of works on paper and portfolios on top of, on the crossbars of, and on the floor beneath the table.

then i moved the flat files.  i had to take all the works on paper out of them, and drag it across the rugs, and then straighten out all the rugs and put all the prints back in.  i actually took the time to make the flat files level, so that i won’t have my pencil rolling off when i’m working.

this was starting to make a corridor.  the print table occupies the space to the left just as you get to the top of the steps, and then there’s the opening into the east gable, and then the flatfiles, and you’re into the main part of the attic.  on the right when you get to the top of the stairs, there’s the entrance to the northwest corner, still blocked, then way over by the west gable there’s the futon bedframes set up to hold all the cataloged prints.  and that’s not moving.  it’s set against the chimney stack and i’m happy with it.

i had to clear out all the space around the futon frames, the usual piles somewhere else.  and then i took the other table and put it perpendicular to the bedframes, and stack more prints on top.  in front of this, along a 3″ drop in the floor level, i put a series of three display plinths, and moved the owl to the tallest one.

this makes a corridor, confining a visitor to the 4×8 sheet directly in front of the steps, which is lower than the rest of the floor.  there’s still a rise at the end, but nobody’s going to trip anywhere else (at this point (please god)).

so then i started moving the paintings.  i started with small ones, 18×24, 20×30.  they went into the east wall right behind the flat files, and don’t stick out much from the eaves.  then i went to the largest ones and put them right in the middle of the south wall.  and now the attic has stacks of unfiled paintings, sorted according to size, waiting to find a place.

it’s all piles again, but it’s piles on oriental rugs.

tomorrow i’m making up a solution of baking soda and water, and some essential oils, and i’m going to attempt to dampen some of the dust into the rugs and out of the air.  it still smells like dust and old cat shit up there.  i know where there’s a pile of it slowly molding under some boards, and i’ll get it tomorrow.

let’s see, what’s left?  this is a good point to say, because i haven’t been far enough along to even hazard a guess until now.

tomorrow we can start clearing paintings out of the living space and out of the studio.  this will take all day, because of the sheer effort involved in going up and down three flights of stairs.

once the paintings are all fitted into space, which will take loads of moving and temporary stacks, then i can attempt to redistribute the stuff that’s stacked up in the northwest corner, which is now completely impassable.

once that’s all worked out, it’ll be time to decorate the space, hang a few paintings from the rafters, find some prints to pin up along the steps, make sure the fluorescent lighting works.

and then it’s to the rest of the house.  the studio will only need sweeping and dusting, and i can straighten it all up in a day.  the living space will take days and days of in depth dusting and washing and scrubbing and straightening and stuffing and storing.  and we’re currently having a cat pee problem from all the disruption of the living space and all the boxes from the attic.

but that’s all i want to write for tonight.  the dogs are getting restless and it’s time to go back to bed.  i’ve got to get up early tomorrow and it’s going to be a tiring day.

as if it’s ever otherwise.



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