The Star Client

Star Client

Ms. SpoolTeacher posted an ad for her Peripatetic Design services on Craigslist recently and had no idea what would come of it.

Would you like a new look without purchasing new things? It’s amazing what can be done by rearranging things you already own for a completely new, fresh look. Just need more organization? That too. Is clutter an issue? No need to throw things away (recycle) unless you want to. There is always a way to make a lot of stuff look better. Groupings, consolidation of like items will minimize the impact and can create a museum quality. $45 p/hr plus mileage trip fee to and from your home from Benson, AZ. Skilled, professional, life-long designer/decorator with great color sensibilities and exceptional organizational skills. No implements required, we’ll use what you have.

This she could do 24/7. She loves, loves, loves to deal with the details of “things”.

true freedom

Lone Mountain Collage, San Francisco, CA

Her first real job after returning from a little summer scholarship at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, (right after graduating from high school), was as a “store decorator” at Levitz Furniture. She was only 18, and very intimidated by the others who seemed so confident of their design skills. Her duties were to daily make rounds of all the aisles and replace any items that had been sold out of the vignettes.

The store had a wonderful stock room full of accessories and that was her domain and resource center.

Looking back now she can see how, even then, she enjoyed focusing on the smallest of details. For some reason, it soothed her anxieties.

She could often be found rearranging the contents of a china cabinet to get all of the elements just right. She also loved to clean the stockroom and reorganize it.

When Ms. SpoolTeacher asked Star Client how she found her ad, Star Client explained that one day she was placing accessories and she had her husband hang a collection of stars above her cabinets in the kitchen. After which, she plopped down on her sofa and felt exasperated. She had had enough. She was feeling overwhelmed with all of the “stuff” that she had kept as her most favorite of things that were the result of her downsizing event some time before.

She didn’t want to get rid of a thing, but she had had enough.

Very often, it is just an objective perspective that is needed to reignite the passion to complete the task.

Star Client asked her husband to, “Please get on Craigslist and find a decorator”.

When she rolled across Ms. SpoolTeachers ad, Star Client told Ms. ST that “That was it.” The words of the ad expressed exactly what she wanted.

The email from Star Client to Ms. SpoolTeacher said, “I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.”

Star Client and Ms. SpoolTeacher had a wonderful time working as a team, going through her treasures and finding their new homes.

If Ms. SpoolTeacher had put an ad for a perfect client, Star Client would have matched the contents to a T.

The minute Ms. ST arrived, Star Client took her on a “tour” and they dug right in. Ms. ST looses herself easily, and they had finished the first room before she thought to take “before” pictures and got so busy in the end taking the ones she did, that she forgot two rooms! Oh well.

Here are the results of their team effort in the main areas. They pretty much touched and moved just about every accessory and numerous furniture items, except of course, the stars!

I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.

They only took one little break and back at it again, the pups wandering in and out and around their feet. Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

This time when Star Client plopped herself down on her sofa, she said, “Whose house is this? Much better!”

"Whose house is this?"

“Whose house is this?”

The thing about it is, it looked very nice before. And she had lovely things to work with.

Ms. SpoolTeacher says that this is The Star Client you always hope you will get the chance to work with.

What a fun day!

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Velma and Maurice

She woke up early this morning in the middle of a dream. Lucy was meowing, Little Red-Haired Girl was whining, they thought it was time to eat and were determined to get her up. She wanted to go back to sleep and finish the dream, but by this time she pretty much knew what it was trying to tell her.

The dream had a lot of red bricks and mortar and flowers, ceramic figurines, cakes and cookies and it was a house from her own childhood neighborhood; but it was different, it had evolved. It seemed to be a “business”. It had a driveway that was serpentine and it took her by a new building that was in the making and she could hear a radio playing and someone, a man, humming. She had walked down the drive because she was walking in the neighborhood and it didn’t look familiar until she saw this house and even though it didn’t look that familiar either, it had the telltale signs of being Velma’s house; flowers planted all along the borders and paths, something constructive going on, and Maurice tinkering somewhere. It was the house of one of her childhood neighbors who was up the lane from where her little cracker box house was, and on the street where people of better means lived. She liked to find her way into those homes and she did because she was the “good kid”, the “sensible kid” of the neighborhood. Parents liked her. She chose her friends by the homes she wanted to be a part of, as it seems now.

Lancaster Lane Cracker Box House

Cracker Box House

Velma was a large lady. Big boned, they called it. She had a little voice, soft and she spoke gently. She was kind of meek, always busy doing something, seemingly in the background. Always something constructive.

She was married to Maurice. Maurice had a good job with the civil service out on the military base only four or five miles away, where her mother also had a position as a clerk in the same building where Maurice worked. If her mother’s car was malfunctioning, Maurice would offer her a ride. It seemed Velma didn’t like that much, so it stopped at some point.

It was a military town so most of the inhabitants were rather poor and somewhat transient, though she remembers the neighborhood being pretty stable all through her growing years. She had the same friends until graduating from High School.

Maurice might have been an engineer. He had a prestigious position on the base and a personality that collected others to him. He laughed a lot and seemed to have a lot of answers.

Velma and Maurice had a daughter who was a year or two ahead of Ms. SpoolTeacher in school. Ms. ST’s older sister had had run ins with her so didn’t like her and neither did Ms. ST’s mother; but Ms. SpoolTeacher liked Velma and Maurice and their big beautiful house and the fact that they “did things” and made things and were constructive and all about home and family, so, somehow Ms. SpoolTeacher became friends with their daughter.

Maurice was always building on to their house or re-configuring it or helping his friends in the neighborhood do the same thing. Ms. SpoolTeacher wanted to know how to do things. She loved to sit around with these adults and hear them talk. Being friends with their daughter had her in their living room many nights when many of the neighbors were there as well and they were all talking shop. They liked to have Ms. SpoolTeacher there as well because it gave them a window into the more seedy side of life. They loved to gossip and they were always trying to get information out of her about the happening of any trouble she was aware of going on.

In the dream, before she had gotten to Velma and Maurice’s house, she had been involved with a project that was developing in what seemed like the plot of land that ran behind her immediate (childhood) neighbor’s house and her own. It was a bunch of mucky mucks and a lot of creative people planning out a venture of an open-air display of their crafts and the mucky mucks were clearly trying to gain control and diminish the profitability of the “little people”. There was a lot of vying for position among the little people for rewards and associations with the mucky mucks. Ms. SpoolTeacher has always been turned off by that and she was wanting to flee. After all, it was her idea they were developing and it was getting away from her and no one seemed to be giving her credit. At first she had been thrilled that her dream was coming true, but then someone started to take it away. That was why she was walking the neighborhood, to vent and look for someone to sound off her feelings to. She was mad that her ideas were being stolen and she wanted to flee and do her own thing or find a way to stop them and take back the control.

When she stumbled upon the bricks and mortar and flowers and new building going on, a sense of peace and contentment came over her. She passed the building with the humming and arrived at a french door opening to a kitchen. She could sense Velma nearby but was first greeted by two or three other girls who said immediately, “Oh, you are the one they talk about all the time”. When Velma finally appeared, she had a bouquet of flowers in her hands and went about putting them in a vase on the counter where there was a large collection of baked goods sitting. They offered her a piece of cake that was frosted with a thick white coconut icing. She declined and started asking questions about what was going on there. They were building a store for Velma to manage all of her constructive things. It had french doors too and Ms. SpoolTeacher went over to investigate. The first thing she saw was a large ceramic brightly colored rooster sitting on the floor of Mexican pavers.

That was when Lucy’s meowing broke her slumber and forced her to relinquish her dream state.

She loves waking up from dreams like this. Dreams that remind her that she has always known what she wants to be and has always been doing something about it. It makes her happy to recall that even as a girl, she was determined, constructive and tenacious about finding the “answers” to how she could get from here to there. Had she been born living up on that street where people of better means lived, would she have learned to be so creative? Would life had been as much fun, even with all of the challenges? The peace she felt in the dream when she stumbled upon Velma and Maurice’s conglomeration of goings on, was the peace of stumbling onto her own life; a life she has created from all of the influences from her past, among them and especially people like Velma and Maurice. There were many such people, but this dream was for them.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent and hopefully get better search engine results, ha!)

No regrets.

The Good Life

Lately, Ms. SpoolTeacher watched “The Egg and I”:

Screen legends Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray star as newlyweds whose love is put to the test on their wedding day in the classic comedy The Egg and I. Just after she has said “I do,” Betty (Claudette Colbert) learns that her new husband, Bob (Fred MacMurray), has left his white-collar job with plans to raise chickens on a rustic farm located miles away from civilization. Betty tries to make the best of her situation in their ramshackle house but never-ending repairs, a malevolent wood-burning stove, rain, ornery livestock and a seductive neighbor (Louise Allbritton) do not make it easy! There is never a dull moment in this heart-warming comedy that also introduced the beloved characters of Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Killbride).

The Egg and I, Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurrayShe just loves movies like this. 1940’s simplicity.

Claudette Colbert was in her 40’s for this film but played a newlywed. You would never guess her age.

Ma and Pa Kettle were introduced in this movie. Who can resist Ma and Pa.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has farming in her genes. Her grandfather had an apple orchard and provided for his family with livestock and gardens.

She never met him and by the time she met her Grandmother, she was running a rooming house for Canadian students who were studying surveying. So the farming thing was only known to her through all the stories she heard her Aunt and Mother report of their youth; but it was “in her blood”.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a page on Facebook where she posts all things interesting to her concerning gardening, farming and the such. She calls it First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy.

All of her life she has gravitated to all things having to do with digging in the dirt, designing and of course, fabric.

She’s determined to be food (at least semi-) self sufficient. Mostly because it is so hard to find fresh organic produce consistently in her little town and also because it is much more economical to grow your own.

Speaking of economy, she lost several of her paying gigs to do with housekeeping and has yet to replace them. She has been getting more and more sewing though. Perhaps because she is home more and people can expect to find her there.

She much prefers to sew than to housekeep. Of course, she’d much more  prefer to be home 24/7 with all her time devoted to gardening and sewing things to put in her Etsy Shop, Spare Shelf. She’s a year or so away from being able to imagine that. It’s getting close though.

In the mean time, she fits in gardening wherever she can. On her priority list has been to build a Hugelkultur bed. It is basically a mound that is developed by placing organic matter, dry and green over decomposing logs, sticks, twigs and then covering them with dirt.

She has been studying various permaculture gardeners to see how they have done it and to see the successes they have had.

Hugelkultur trench, one dog high

They can either be structured starting with a trench or at ground level. She chose to dig a trench. Actually, she thought that was how they were supposed to be, but after digging the trench, one dog high, (approx. 28W X 18D), she went back to revisit some of the posts and discovered that some start at ground level. Sepp Hozier, famous in the arena, builds them 6 feet high and does recommend digging a trench of about one foot deep. But, it appears it can be equally successful either way. The tall installation adds surface area for planting. The lower ones seem to be better suited for front yard farming where neighbors or the city might intervene. And, unless you have lots of extra dirt somewhere to cover the mounds, the trench gives you the dirt. She really doesn’t have issues as such with neighbor or the city, but thinks she will enjoy the lower profile design.Though she sure likes this one below.

http://inhabitat.com/diy-hugelkultur-how-build-raised-permaculture-garden-beds/

She thought she had a tremendous amount of resources but they got used up quickly. She will do this on her side yard somewhere in the future. It is a much bigger plot and has a slope that would greatly benefit from the contours of this serpentine shape. Now to find more resources. The ones she had were years in accumulating. These are just a sampling of what the years had provided.

hugelkultur resource collage

The premise with Hugelkultur is that, yes, it is lots and lots and lots of hard, hard, hard work at the installation; but they are a permanent bed that sequesters carbon, releases nutrients and stores water. Not to mention that they are a wonderful use of resources that would otherwise go to landfills or up in the atmosphere as smoke. So, they pay for themselves with labor and resources saved down the road.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Did she say, “A lot of work”? Especially for an old(ish) lady. (60 is the new 40 don’t you know?)

First go in the logs, sticks and twigs.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Aren’t those sticks pretty?

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Then the composted material, and dry leaves.

Little Red-Haired Girl living on the edge

Little Red-Haired Girl is living on the edge! She just knows there is something in there alive and edible. Grubs she likes.

hugelkultur 040

Summer leaves composted fairly nicely already.

then the composted material and dry leaves

She then watered it in, added some of the excavated trench dirt and watered it some again to level it out. She will continue adding the trench dirt, which should create some kind of mound. There is a slight threat of rain tonight, so she’s waiting for that just in case.

watered in and waiting for possible rain before adding the rest of the dirt

Where did it go! Oh, no!

She has a north facing front yard that the house shadows. Come summer though, it is pretty much full sun most of the day.

In between digging the trench and building the Hugelkultur mound layers, she leveled the landing area at the front gate and installed pavers. She does this by eye and the feel of hand, and right over the dirt, no sand. She likes things a little Wabi-sabi.

front gate landing pavers

While this was all going on, the little Anna Apple tree went into full bloom and had bees swarming.

Apple Tree in full bloom, and full of bees

Shortly thereafter the apricot tree went from bud to bloom. The bees were circling the buds aching for them to open

Apricot tree flower buds

As soon as they did, there were swarms of bees and the prettiest butterflies.

Apricot tree in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies

If you look carefully, there is one visible butterfly in between the wires a little to the left of center, (kind of like Ms. SpoolTeacher’s politics!).

“How do people ever find time to be bored”, she asks.

She’s so happy she got this done just in time to plant for spring. She didn’t think she would.

Her house stays too cold to start plants indoors and she doesn’t have heating mats or such, yet. This bed is supposed to contain more heat to allow for earlier planting. (She wonders if that means seeds as well)

Four sewing jobs accumulated while all this was going on. Now to tackle those.

Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs

Feast or famine.

Ah, The Good Life.

The good life“, a philosophical term for the life that one would like to live, originally associated with Aristotle.

The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living

Are you living the life you would like to live?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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