December 13, 2013


Stymied. That's how I have felt every time I walk into the "big room" of our house. Once I recognized this, put a name to it, I could do something to fix it rather than feel overwhelmed by the impenetrable morass of moving boxes that had me referring to the room as our storage unit.
stymie (sti' me) n. 1. A golfing situation in which an opponent's ball obstructs the line of play of one's own ball on the putting green. 2. An impasse; quandary. -- tr.v. stymied, -mieing, -mying. To block; thwart.  The American Heritage Dictionary, 1975.
With this house, I have wanted to make a singular effort towards "done-ness." Do it once and do it right. Never mind that it takes me time actually living in a space to figure out how to best use the space. Nope, forget about temporary solutions. Skip directly to final outcomes. Or so my internal voice dictated.

My only opponent to making our home livable in the short term is myself. I had it in mind that the walls had to - just absolutely HAD TO - be painted before unpacking anything. Never mind that the impenetrable morass of boxes blocked access to the very walls that HAD TO be painted. And never mind that the chaos made me feel unsettled, jangly, and anxious. And never mind that it is now winter, not the best time to be painting exterior walls (cold to the touch!) with no ventilation (windows sealed with plastic insulation).

Finally, something clicked, generously helped along by an article over on Young House Love about renovating in phases. Reading that granted me permission to tackle our house in phases. Phase I: Unpack already! After only 2 half days of effort, the big room now only half resembles a storage unit. And I am only half as unsettled by it as before. (It may not be apparent in the photos, but now there is actual open floor space. That little patch of unhindered sunlight is truly a mind balm and soul salve.)

Plus, all the studio items are consolidated along the yellow wall. Which led to the revelation why I haven't been able to unpack my studio. Every hodge-podge piece of furniture that used to be studio storage has been pressed into service (temporary or otherwise) elsewhere in the house. (Yes, this really took from mid-July until now to dawn on me.) No wonder I can't unpack the studio. There is literally no where to unpack to. Storage shelf #1 is currently serving as the pantry. Storage shelf #2 was co-opted into the entertainment center 2 years ago and remains so. My main work table has morphed into a work bench out in the barn. And while it still frustrates me not to have ready access to my studio materials and tools, let alone a work surface, I am no longer frustrated with myself for causing the situation. I have granted myself permission to not beat up on myself for my lack of unpacking and lack of organization. This is a liberating relief. So much so, I can now concentrate on designing proper studio storage to replace the odds-and-ends that have been making do but have never been ideal.

Pondering all this reminded me of something I read somewhere once - don't let best get in the way of good. Or something like that. It struck me at the time as an important truth I should remember and put into practice. I apparently promptly forgot all about it because this latest lesson was relearned the hard way, paid for with months of chaos and frustration. I wonder if this is why old needlepoint samplers often spelled out values, morals, and aphorisms. Working the threads into words spelling out a life lesson would help to ingrain the lesson into the mind of the maker. The finished result would then hang on the wall as a daily reminder to heed the lesson.  I just might need to work my own maxims in needlepoint. I certainly could use the reminders.  

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