attic: love it or leave it

okay, it’s done.  as done as it’s going to get.  and i’m going to take pictures, i swear;  for the record.  for when it’s back to being impassable upstairs.

i believe i left you working in the gallery a few days ago, maybe tuesday.  i spent a day on the spare ‘oom, and a day on the gallery, and then i started to get antsy.

all i had left in the middle of the house were the rooms most lived in, and with the least surface cleaning needed.  the main bedroom, the front room, the living room, the kitchen.  only the kitchen gave me the creeps.  the rest of them were basically – declutter horizontal spaces and sweep.

but of course i’ve been piling things up in those various rooms for three weeks now, so each room had its own declutter process to undergo.

but never mind that.  was it wednesday?  we had a party to go to that night, and i was still cleaning the bedroom.  i didn’t want to go; i wanted to stay home and clean.  but that’s a danger sign in itself, so i changed clothes and went.

and had a great time.  the other artists are all normal people, for artists, and none of them had swelled heads or inflated senses of who they were in the world.  quite the contrary.  so i spent the evening wearing my party head.

yesterday i went down to the studio first thing (well, first thing after going to the attic to put a table in its final place so jim could arrange a sculpture tableau on it) and stayed there all day, moving everything from one studio to the next, cleaning the floors and walls, and moving it all back again.

i started at the back, my studio closet, where i have files, blank canvases, finished encaustic paintings, prints and matting supplies, rolls of canvas and piles of stretchers.

everything came out into my studio.  suddenly you couldn’t walk thru my studio.  i moved the big shelves to the other wall, where there’d be more room for the long rolls (it used to cut right into the light of the window), and the other shelves.  and then i repacked everything.  empty frames (and with other peoples’ art in them) went in one stack.  blank canvases (and with ex paintings on them) went in another.  sheets of glass went against the far wall between the shelves and the files.  the really large canvases and the encaustic paintings went in the space between shelves and files.  files and computer parts and paper went on top of the file cabinets.  and then the room was full.

and i went into my studio proper, which is also an office, and a sitting area, and a kitchen, and moved everything out of that.  things were already bad in this area, because i haven’t been doing any art for awhile, and nature abhors a neat studio.  so i had a lot of little things to find places for.  and they ended up being piled on top and in between all the stuff in the closet (that was already full).

sweep the empty floor.  mop the empty floor.  don’t bother rinsing.  the floors are painted dark so the streaks won’t show, and the borax and ammonia mix i use to wash with disinfects and protects against bugs, so rinsing is not called for.  anything is better than ground-in dust.  plus, i’m lazy.


then i moved all the stuff back in, and it looked lovely.  so then i moved all the stuff out of the middle studio.  the furniture came into my studio, and the rest of the stuff went into the front studio, which had all the stuff i took down out of the attic.  and the living space.  and the porch.

i left it ready to mop.  the dust in the studio is so much thicker and heavier than the dust in the attic.  i was really surprised.  but when i cleaned off and wiped my face with a wet cloth, and ringed my nostrils with a corner, it came away black, not gray.

the mopping isn’t very good for my back.  i bend over and wring the mop out, and then i put my back into it scrubbing the floor, and i do it 30 or 40 times per room, that is per hour.  so when i try to sleep i end up with the most intense tingle in my hips and down my legs.  restless leg syndrome has nothing on this.  being pregnant didn’t cause half the hip pain.  of course, if i were pregnant at 55 godforbid, my back would hurt like hell the whole time, i’m certain.

so after 45 minutes of sleep, i got up and came back down to the studio and finished cleaning.  mopped the middle studio, moved everything back into it, and everything out of the front studio, and mopped it.  wiping the cobwebs off the walls and ceilings and out of the windows was rather a challenge, and moving all the paint cans off the floor of the front studio was another, and it was after 2 when i went back upstairs, but everything was set up and ready for the studio visit.

this afternoon at 3.

i was up before dawn, and put on the coffee, and then went back to sleep until after dawn, when we had a joyless cup of coffee before getting up and getting to it.

now jim’s spent the last couple of days going around pulling out paintings he wants to show, and cleaning all his sculptures, which have been gathering cobwebs on top of the kitchen cabinets, and straightening his parts of the house.

this morning i got up and made bread, because it’s bread day.  jim started the charcoal for a roast, because it’s smoking day.  and it’s also studio visit day, so after kneading the bread, i cleaned the kitchen.  and when i came back to punch it down and put it in the loaf pan, i cleaned the front room, and when i came back to heat the oven and start baking, i cleaned the living room.  and when it came out of the oven the visitors were at the door.

bread.  the rhythm of life.

between rounds with the bread, i was upstairs in the attic, shoving stuff where it went.  first the tools, which had been sitting in the middle of the floor.  then the household stuff, which i had moved into the middle of the floor previously.  and then the knicknacks, which i moved in once the floor was clear again.  and it all went in nicely against the eaves.  which left the middle.  i found some rugs at the last minute, and put them down in the middle of the northwest corner, and then carried the big table in and positioned it right next to the support beam in the middle of the room.

and then i moved all the prints that had been on top of the 4×8 that had shifted off its beam, and then moved all the furniture off the flooring and lifted the rug, and then shifted the flooring sheet and arranged for auxiliary support that will probably fail and i’ll have to redo it (later).  and then jim and i moved the couch onto the floor (the canework couch that (minus cushions) had spent time in a corner of the bedroom being used as a fort by the grandbaby) and stuck the cushions back on it.  then i moved the 10′ woodcut boards behind the couch and put them across file cabinets, and got out the 30′ scrolls and rolled them out for viewing.

all while jim was going thru the many stacks of etchings and prints and pulling out interesting pieces to display on the worktable in the bedroom.

and then they called and said they were coming.  ten minutes.  so i swept the front porch, and went thru the bathroom stuffing things into drawers (i never got to the bathroom), and went back out to sweep the walk free of acorns (one of our visitors had on high heels)

so, never minding the few piles of things that had grown up in the front room since i cleaned it an hour earlier, we dealt with a studio visit.

i let jim greet them and take them thru the studio proper, and then when they came up here, i trailed after them and pointed things out a little and explained my views of jim’s work, and cautioned them to only walk on the carpeted areas in the attic.

and they had some bread, and they hung out on the front porch for a few minutes, and they left for their next studio visit.

and then we leashed up the dogs and went for a leisurely walk, and then jim took a nap while i finished the barbeque in the oven and made rice.  and wrote this blog.

it’s raining outside, and i never have to do this much work in this house again.

and best of all, i am all set up to begin the real job up in the attic – cataloging the thousands of prints and etchings and paintings that are up there, only a small fraction of which are mine.

and it doesn’t matter at all if jim wins the award or gets further notice or if it all comes to nothing, because we achieved a really impressive amount of work to benefit us, and we’ll always notice the results of our efforts.


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