Saturday, November 26, 2011

Clutter, Chaos and Creativity

I live in an older home. It was built around 1910. I should say it was assembled because according to what we have been able to figure out since moving in over 20 years ago, the original structure had two rooms up and two rooms down. It has a front porch across the front of the house. It was a cute, tiny house. There was no indoor plumbing and the staircase was in the middle of the house. Not long after that, an additional two rooms were added at the back of the house. The rooms were stacked one above the over and a porch was added to the side. We think these rooms came along as this young farming family grew.

Then, a shed from another, older home, that had burned down, was loaded up on skids and dragged over. It was attached to the main house via the side porch. A third porch was added to the back of the house. It had a concrete floor like the other two porches. This shed was turned into the summer kitchen.

When I moved here in August of 1989, there was no front door. A pieced of plywood covered the entrance. There were pieces of an wood cook stove scattered about the summer kitchen, but there was not enough left of it to re-assemble it and make something that worked. At some point in the 1960s someone had installed a bathroom under the stairs which had been moved to one side of the house. The two back porches had been enclosed and the supporting wall had been removed. The roof had started to sag at that point and other than putting in front door, we immediately re-enforced the foundation and put in a pole to get the ceiling back into place.

Over the course of the last 20 years, we have ripped out cloth wiring, installed new plumbing, torn out rotten plaster, repaired termite damage, rebuilt part of the foundation, replaced all 42 windows and put on vinyl siding, enclosed half of the front porch and repaired the rest. We repaired the 75 year tin roof as best we could because we could not afford to replace it. The back porch became our laundry room. We have one room left to paint and that is the master bedroom. The whole house needs to be repainted and some of the floors we laid down need to be replaced (we used the cheap linoleum at the time and it's now wearing out).

This house has been a lot of work. I love that we can now open all the windows and let the prevailing breeze through and, except when temperatures exceed 90 with high humidity, the house stays pretty cool.

I also love my kitchen. Nothing is built in. All of the cabinets and counters and tables and appliances can be removed. The only fixture is the sink and I kept the giant ceramic sink that came with the house. I have my eye on a new kitchen faucet, but that is on my wish list. The water heater is in the kitchen. It was there when I moved in. Anticipating that it would probably die not long after we moved in, as it is probably older than I am (50+), we installed pipe to the laundry room and put a cap on the end. It's still doing a nice job of heating our water and as a result, I still do laundry with cold water. But eventually, it will die and we will install a new, energy efficient model in the laundry room and run the hot water from there to the rest of the house.

But back to the kitchen. Here is my kitchen table. When the boys were home, it sat squarely in the middle of the room and we all sat around it for meals. After the boys moved out on their own, I re-oriented the thing and now use it as extra counter space. 

So what is all that stuff? Under the table is my stock pot and 60 pound bucket of honey. On top is a batch of sour dough starter, some butter, kefir, a bowl of mixed crispy nuts with organic raisins, a bunch of parsley from my garden, some local honey with the comb in, the large glass jar has a little bit of sprouted and freshly ground rye flour. The paper bag contains a partly eaten loaf of sourdough rye bread. On that table is also a jar of Kumbucha and a jar of some fermenting veggies.

My husband thinks my kitchen is in constant chaos. I prefer to think of it as a catalyst for creativity.

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