Monday, November 26, 2007

The problem with posting so infrequently is that it magnifies the significance of every post I do make. (Maybe not to you, dear reader, but to me.) It's a vicious circle from which there is no easy escape except biting the bullet and jumping back in. Which I'm doing now.

Am I the only one who composes endless brilliant blog entries in her mind? I even take great pictures and write pithy captions. But something about the actual just never happens.

Anyway, here we are at the end of November. I usually fight the arrival of fall tooth and nail. Each leaf that turns brown and falls is cause for grief as I know the long period of bleakness that follows. But the whirlwind of this year has been so intense that I welcome a little bit of silence and solace right now so I can regroup, reground, and refocus my life.

I'm as prepared for winter as you can be in these parts. The onions are in, the wood has been piled, the screens are off and the windows have been washed, the snow tires are on, the water and batteries and lamp oil and extra food have been stashed, the basket of scarves and hats and mittens has returned to the front entry.

And just as the last leaf fell, the last coat of polyurethane was drying on my new workspace. I'm calling it the Knitter's Review International Inc. West Campus. Otherwise known as the Place for Things to Accumulate.

It's located inside the barn that is attached to my house. The only real way to describe the magic transformation of this space is through pictures, because words alone just won't do it. A solitary craftsman named Ken did all the work. While others rolled their eyes and doubted the project had any aesthetic or functional merit whatsoever, Ken got it. We began scheming almost three years ago. He finally tore out the first old rotten board in August. What you see here was completed by one person in three months.

This is the beginnings of the space. Years ago it used to house a cow who, I'm assuming, lived a pretty unhappy life. I felt I owed it to the spirit of that cow to create a place of beauty.

The next step was simple: Put down a new floor and remove the so-called "ceiling" between the cow's unhappy home and the upstairs loft.

Presto, double the space!

The goal was to create a two-storied space with many windows and built-in bookcases upstairs. The barn has three more bays that I didn't touch, so there's still plenty of room for the lawnmower and potting table and snow tires and other stuff that tends to accumulate in barns here in Maine.

Next came the openings for the windows, which was part of the whole reason for creating this space. I love, love, love having windows.

In my infinite enthusiasm, however, I forgot that the windows would need priming and two coats of paint before they could actually be put in.

A firm believer in sweat equity, I grabbed the brushes and began my work.

Ten windows in all. Don't look too closely. My mantra was, "I'm doing the best I can." The razor blade was my friend.

One day in August I was outside painting the windows and a tourist stopped to ask for directions. She glanced at the windows, and at the construction mess in the barn, and asked me, "So... do you make windows?"

It was such a baffling question that I couldn't really answer. So she repeated the question louder and more slowly, "Dooo youuu make winnndows?"

Of course I had all sorts of smart comebacks but only 10 minutes after she'd pulled away. I mean really...

ANYWAY, finally the windows were done and set in their masterful frames. Then came the downstairs ceiling, and then the insulation, and then the wall panels and the upstairs ceiling, and then the actual stairs, and then the trim, and then the built-in bookcases upstairs, and endless calls to the electrician and the heating guy and the painter (I gave up and had someone else seal the floors and wals), but before I knew it, and exactly three months after the first board was removed, the space was done.

Remember that initial view of our sad, lonely cow's old home? Well, here's a new picture from almost the same exact spot.

There are three tall windows on each floor, concealed here by the stairs.

And upstairs, facing away from the tall windows, you have BOOKSHELVES in all their spacious, organized glory. Capped with three little south-facing windows that shall keep my overwintered geraniums happy and healthy until next summer.

After hearing me say, "I really need more shelves" one too many times, Ken had the brilliant idea to surround the staircase opening not with your standard banister or low wall, but with even more bookcases. It's pure heaven.

So this is my new writing home. I'm only sharing pictures of the blank slate -- far more interesting than a space filled with my personal garbage -- but I trust you'll be able to fill it with your own imaginary books and yarns and dreams.

In May I'll be handing over the keys to my old store / warehouse space and moving everything back home. I feel in many ways like I've gone full circle from the early days of filling orders at my kitchen table to needing a separate space away from home to do work and maintain my own life, to finally reaching a happy compromise with a space that's at home but that has a door that I can firmly close at the end of the day. When making your passion your profession, I think it's even more crucial to maintain those boundaries. Otherwise it's too easy and tempting to let your passion overtake your life. Which is fine for a time, but not forever.