Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Room of My Own, Summer Style

I have always been a sucker for playhouses, beginning with some serious coveting of a cardboard house my older sister got for her birthday when we were little. (To be fair, she was very gracious and let me play in it nearly any time I wanted, but I wanted to own it myself. I'm not sure I'd have been as welcoming to her, if I'd been landlord.) From then on, I was the queen of forts and hidey-holes - under my bed, with piles of sofa cushions and sheets in the living room, in the little hollowed out place in the middle of the forsythia bushes - any place I could squeeze into.

I also think one of my secret motivations for becoming a mother was to have another shot at having a really cool playhouse, which is how I came to force my handy husband to build the one above in our backyard. I think the kids did love it as much as I did. In its heyday, it was well furnished with a little kitchen center thingie, a child-sized table and chairs, and comfy cushions - and outfitted with essential features like a basket attached to a pulley for hauling up snacks, a secret exit to the monkey bars, a double dutch door, and slide.

The years unfortunately, have not been entirely kind to it; it's full of cobwebs, half-painted as the result of an overly ambitious project undertaken by my daughter and her buddies right about the time they lost interest in make-believe and helping with chores (age 11, for those of you at that stage). I can no longer entice anyone to play in it, not even by offering to bring them a super nice snack or promising to leave them alone and not eavesdrop even a little bit. (Okay, not surprising since they're now 20, 18 and 16. But still.) Now it stores the lawn furniture over the winter and shelters chipmunks and squirrels and far too many spiders, but I always feel wistful when I catch a glimpse of it out the window.

So yesterday, when I was moping around after yet another rainstorm (with still another threatening) and fishing around for a way to avoid some little projects I needed to work on, I decided to do what I've been threatening to do for years: I fixed it up as a playhouse for me!

Pretty nice, huh! I rehung the curtains, even though they're very faded, brushed ALL the cobwebs away and asked the spiders and buzzy bees very nicely to relocate, and spruced up the furniture (nearly all scrounged from the garbage back when I could sometimes persuade my tweens to hang out in the house), and added my grown up necessities, like a snack, citronella candles, a small rug, a jam jar of flowers, and a LONG extension cord with a surge protector to plug my laptop into. (I've even managed to get intermittent internet reception, something I can't even get reliably on my crappy laptop when I'm sitting right next to my wireless router. Grr.) And then I was a good girl and worked out there the rest of the afternoon. And in the evening had my glass of wine up there in the rocking chair I lugged up (barely visible in the lower right hand corner). I had to read my book while I sipped my shiraz since I couldn't quite persuade my husband to join me. He had "more important" things to do.

By the way, I'm reading Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth (for my book club), and I'm enjoying it very much, even though I find the writing style and some of the characterization painfully clumsy at times. (Why do writers of adult fiction always seem to get away with faux pas that would brand someone attempting to write for kids as a rank amateur?)

There are still some glitches I need to iron out, such as the dog above, who not only insists on joining me (which means I have to carry her up and down the rickety ramp that is the only access I can remotely manage) but also refuses to vacate the best seat for working. And her attention span is annoying short, plus she drank some of my iced tea when I put it on the floor so I wouldn't risk spilling it on my laptop. And the half-painted look is already getting to me so I'm likely to end up hunting down the rollers and leftover house paint before long. And I need a fan. And some Off! because the citronella candles weren't really adequate. But on the whole, so satisfying. Maybe it will be enough to inspire me to finish the novel I started more than a year ago.

If you're craving a playhouse too, check out this book with lots of cool ideas. I'm already trying to plot how to convince my husband to just "update" my playhouse with a few little things, like real wiring, glass windows, maybe some heating for the winter...


Julie Stiegemeyer said...

Carol - this is so awesome!! Now I'm seriously coveting! Here's my best advice (because I'd get hung up on all the clean up, painting, etc.): just let it be what it is. Let that unfinished-ness of it inspire creativity in your own lovely writing and artwork. (But maybe buy Koko a doggie bed!)

Carol Baicker-McKee said...

Thanks Julie. I'm really enjoying it -- but I'm going to take your advice! (I did have to add a few more nice touches though -- like one of the fabulous wrapped baskets you made me! And I have put Koko's bed in there, but she still prefers the chair. Darn it.