DIY DIVA
DIY diva

The Good, The Hard, and The Half-Finished Window Seat

December 19, 2018 | 39 Comments | Uncategorized
DIY diva

Okay, listen, to be fair, it’s a mostly finished window seat.

And at this exact moment in time–the moment where I’m on a roll building assorted cabinetry, and my mom and I are having a blast working between our two houses on the weekends, and there hasn’t been a farm crisis in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve actually got the time and energy to sit down and write this post–things are good. Really good. I’m living the dream (as long as we all understand “the dream” is covered in sawdust and still doesn’t shower or do the dishes quite as much as is socially acceptable.)

But let me also tell you that while things in this moment are good, it’s only because I have been living right on the cusp of “what the actual fuck” for the last several months, unsure if I’m going to tip right over the edge into crazy-squirrel-lady-who-has-given-up-on-doing-anything-she-loves-ever-again or, you know, manage to claw my way out of that hole until things feel right in my life again.

(I’m not joking about the Crazy Squirrel Lady part. They invaded the house and started hiding walnuts in my laundry.)

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Here’s the thing. My life is not now, nor will it ever be, a study in balance. I’m a creature of extremes. Of periods of time when I’m in the grips of a big project or a physical challenge and feel like I have the energy and vision and drive to take on the world… and times when I don’t. When I feel the absence of that energy so acutely that even though I know that it’s just a recovery period, and that I will find myself engaged and energized in my own life again at some point in the future, there’s a part of me that says (very loudly and incessantly), “Welp, that’s it. I guess I’m never going to do anything good again, and everything feels off in my life, and I’m just going to be exhausted forever. Awesome.”

I’m compelled to say that out loud, because what I really want to do is skip over all the things that have sucked lately and just talk about is how awesome it feels to be building all kinds of shit right now. But, even though I haven’t been in the right space to update this site as frequently as I used to, telling an authentic story is still the most important thing to me.

And life is (almost surprisingly) good right now, but only because I’m on the other side of some shit that has been really hard.

First, because I burned through a ton of energy this summer making a pretty big career change and spending a lot more time away from the farm that I’m used to.

And because I spent a solid 8 months training for a solo 50 mile hike in Iceland…

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(I crushed it–finishing in 2.5 days instead of the 4-5 I planned for– but also very quickly felt the post-adventure blues. It’s a real thing.)

And then because the very worst thing happened… I lost Bubs.

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I mean, I did not misplace him, obviously. I lost him to cancer (which, I know, sounds very melodramatic for a cat. After being otherwise healthy and acting normal he stopped eating one week, and then I found out his intestines were riddled with tumors and he didn’t make it out of the surgery to try to remove them.)

I get that cats are not humans, and for most people cats are not even dogs, but this cat in particular has been my companion for the last 12 years. He was literally the inspector for the very first big project I completed on my first house (the first badass pergola)…

Trench filled 1st day

And has been with me through every house, every relationship, every project…

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And every blog post since…

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I understand all of the intellectual things about how he had a great life, and we got to spend 12 years just hanging out together…

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But it still fucking sucks, and I miss his cat face every day.

(Although I did find a desiccated bat on the middle of the living room rug two weeks after he died and was like HOW ARE YOU STILL DOING THIS TO ME WITH THE BATS, BUBS?! I do not miss waking up to dead bats in the bed, but I do miss my cat.)

So, that was hard. 

Not only is it tough not to have him around, but within a couple of weeks, the squirrels moved out of the attic and started hiding walnuts around my house. (The one I found under the covers of my bed was the last straw.)

Also, the mice started hiding Bubs old cat food in my shoes.

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That’s not… I’m not making that up. It happened a handful of times before I realized some creature was doing this to me on purpose.

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I mean, I knew Bubs was good at catching shit, but I had no idea how much work he was doing on a daily basis to keep the house free of rodents.

So, just to recap: New job, big adventure, post-adventure blues, dead cat, rodent invasion, and also this has been a tough year for a lot of my friends in a lot of different ways, so just add all of that into the general mix of hard shit and, oh, I’m sorry, did you come here to read about a window seat?

Yeah, so, I managed to come out on the other side of that mess of feelings, a little worse for wear, but with my sanity mostly intact. And then I built a window seat.

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As one does.

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I had my HVAC guys come and move the baseboard heat for me because it required a bit of finagling. Then I bought a piece of 10′ plywood, made a napkin drawing, and went to town.

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It looks civilized from the outside, but the inside is just a mess of blocking.

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Originally I was going to make the storage in this thing drawers (see drunk napkin sketch above) but then I realized that after I accounted for the baseboard heat, the drawers would only be 5″ deep. So I went for the next best thing…

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Flip top! (A couple of stainless steel piano hinges did the trick.)

I only expect to access this storage space once or twice a year (it currently contains my window AC unit and a bunch of canning jars.)

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And just to provide context for the size of this beast…

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It’s over 9′ long. Like everything else in this house, weirdly oversized, but we’re just going with it.

I finished the top of the bench with iron-on veneer on the cut ends…

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Legitimately the only use this iron ever gets. Also, if you ever have qualms about iron-on veneer, I also used this exact stuff on the tables I built for the office at my last job. Those tables have been in the common area of that office (used by 50 people or so daily for the last 3+ years) and the veneer held up beautifully.

Back to the project at-hand though…

The last step was to trim out the front so that it looks a bit more in line with my cabinets.

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Trim is always the critical factor in taking a project from “what the hell are you doing?” to “Huh. That looks pretty damn good.”

Also, you can’t beat the view…

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It needs to be painted, obviously, and I’m in the process of ordering a custom cushion, and then if you need to find me after that, I’ll just be laying in this window seat for the next eternity.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.

Did I or did I not say I was on a roll with the cabinet-building?

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After three years of staring at the ass-end of these cabinets, I finally got my act together and finished them.

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This whole project was a study in creative problem solving and using what I had on-hand.

First, I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to handle the trim on these, but I knew I wanted to replicate the look of the cabinets because the big blank panel that used to be there (before I added a 3rd cabinet) kind of drove me nuts.

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Because I custom-built that end cabinet with a wrap-around toe-kick, I had to get creative with the trim (which also meant replacing some of the facing on that cabinet because I didn’t think far enough in advance 2 years ago, apparently.)

And then, of course, once I figured out how I wanted to do the trim, I found out that none of my local lumber suppliers sell 3/8″ thick trim boards in any kind of usable length and width. Turns out, however, that I have a bunch of 3/8″ thick tongue and groove pine planks from an unfinished project upstairs, and if you rip the tongue and the groove off?

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Perfect trim boards.

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But then there was the question about how I should hold the the pieces of trim in place while the glue dried in the spots that had no usable clamping or nailing surfaces.

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No problem.

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Also, funny story, that is not paint in my hair. That’s legit all the gray hair the last four months seven years life has given me that I stopped coloring for a minute because I was too busy not having a meltdown to care about.

Good news, I did not have a meltdown. My hair is very gray. And the back-side of my kitchen cabinets look like this.

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I am considering that the bottom trim board really needs to be a bit beefier, and weighing that against my desire to screw around with this anymore when I’ve got a couple more drawers, and secret cabinets, and at least seven sheets of plywood’s worth of built-ins I’m hoping to get done soon.

I’m telling you, it was a long, hard end to summer but I’ve got a wave of energy when it comes to building cabinets right now, and I’m going to ride it as long as I can.

DIY diva

    Comments

  • Heidi


    Kit, I am so sorry to read about the loss of your main man Bubs. It’s ridiculous how hard it is to go through and I’m thinking about you.

    And in other notes, you’re not the only who rides the wave while it’s there and then moves on to a different project when it’s not. That’s why it took us years to finish a bathroom, lol.

    Merry Christmas! Really love following your blog.

  • Scott


    You wrote “I haven’t been in the right space to update this site as frequently as I used to, telling an authentic story is still the most important thing to me.” You’re doing it correctly. Continue posting at YOUR pace – when you have something to say. (Some bloggers feel compelled to post just to post – even when they have nothing to say – and that is way worse than not posting for a while)

  • Tanya


    Kit, tears sprung out of my eyes and then ran down my cheeks when I read about Bubs. I have two black cats and Bubs always reminds me of them. I am so sorry, I know this sucks.
    Thank you for sharing your stories; the good, the bad and the sad. I appreciate you and your authenticity!

  • Katie


    Thank you for sharing – while it sounds like you had a shitstorm of a year I’m constantly in awe of your perseverance and strength. Apparently, I’ve recounted enough of your adventures to my husband that he instantly knows who you are, despite never having read your blog! This blog world is a weird one, but know that you have inspired a kindred spirit in Washington – and I look forward to hearing about your adventures to come!

  • KLCtheBookWorm


    I lost my cat a year ago in September and I also live in a hundred-year-old house. My mouse invasion waited until after I declared I didn’t want to get another cat until after the family cruise in 2019. I thought I had beat them back, but they are back again just a few months later. Luckily, the squirrels just stay in the attic space and I have not found walnuts in my bed yet. Acorns in my dishtowel drawer, but that has to be the mice.

  • Juliet


    I’m so sorry that cancer got Bubs. That is just heartbreaking. Yeah, yeah a pet isn’t a person, but you still love this sentient creature with whom you share your life, and it’s a huge loss.
    I’m glad that there is some feeling of productivity for yourself (not just slogging through work for other entities), and that there’s some brightness coming back.

  • Shannon M Conley


    I am so so sorry to hear about Bubs! What a terrible loss. There’s a big hole when we lose one of our furry friends.

    The construction stuff looks awesome BTW…

  • Tracy


    I’m so sorry about Bubs – he was part of your life and your story, and we’re going to miss him too.

  • Kat


    I’m so sorry to hear about Bubs! :( We lost our 14 year old boy in May and I still miss him when I’m working on something and he isn’t there to critique it. They may not be human but they can still hold a big place in our hearts.

  • Lu Ann Freema


    Mentally understanding the loss is very much different than having to feel the loss. I’m so sorry about Bub, may he rest in sweetest peace. Old houses need hard working cats, I have a new-ish house and very lazy cats.
    Also, its nice to know that everyone feels their inspiration come and go. I tend to be very very much the same taking on 100 projects at a time and forgoing sleep for awhile. And then… nothing and I start to panic that I’m lazy or that nothing will feel right again. Until one day inspiration just comes back.

  • carolbaby


    So sorry about Bubs – what a superstar he was. Kitties are The Best.

    It’s really great to see you back here – whatever the frequency – I love your writing.

    I hope you (and your fam – both human and creatures) have an excellent Xmas.

  • stephanieZ


    Super shitty to hear about your kitty. Cats are the bees knees and losing one is really tough. I am not looking forward to the day when my own cat isn’t here. They provide such comfort and friendship. I’m glad you’re picking yourself back up. The cabinetry work looks fantastic.

  • Stacy


    I felt like I knew your cat! I say that when you’re ready you should get two more! Also the cabinets look amazing and you don’t need me to tell you how great of a carpenter you are! Thanks for sharing your wonderful crazy authentic life!

    Did you see the northern lights when you were in Iceland? It’s one of my happy places!

  • aart


    Great Post!
    Done the booze fueled pendulum swings between both extreme ends of the spectrum, you describe it beautifully. Glad you survived the latest lows, condolences on kitty.
    Great Projects!
    Love the window seat storage.
    Rock on Sister!

  • Roger


    Oh Kit, so sorry to hear about Bubs! When the sharp pain fades to a dull ache, I know you will cherish all the memories of your time together. My old dude just turned 14 and is really slowing down. I dread the day…..
    I know you can’t think about it right now, but there is always a tiny bit of room in your heart that will provide the toe-hold for a new feline companion. You’ll know when the time is right.
    Great to hear from you again! I look forward to the next installment whenever it arrives!

  • Emily F


    I’m so so sad to hear about Bubs! He looks like one of my cats and it always made me smile to see his handsome face in your posts. And I don’t care what people say – cats are family. They provide so much love and companionship, and it’s heartbreaking when they leave us. I’m so sorry for your loss.. :(

  • Donna


    I am soooo sorry to hear about Bubs.

  • Rachel


    I am so sorry to read about your loss. Pets are family, and some of the best friends you could ever hope to have, so their absence even hits hard, even though you know they lived their best life and couldn’t have wished for more.

    Please don’t apologise for dealing with life, and this blog, at your own pace. At the end of the of the day, you are kind enough to give us (your readers) a window into your life, and really useful, entertaining content for free. I’m just grateful and excited whenever a new post does pop up!

    PS it’s good to know that other people take ages to finish projects too! It’s hard not to get discouraged when the internet is full of people who seem to crack out full kitchen remodels in about 3 days…

  • Carla from Kansas


    Kit — wow. Solo trek in Iceland, can’t even imagine. So sorry about Bubs. You need a couple new kitties to keep down your rodent population! Kitchen looking good. Always enjoy your posts.

  • LD


    Peace and hugs kid!! Life is a roller coaster.

  • Kim


    Oh no! Bubs!!! I’m so sorry. No matter how long they’re with us, it’s never long enough.

  • JoDi


    So sorry about sweet Bubs! He always reminds me of the cat I had growing up. She was a fierce hunter too – always bringing “gifts” back to the house for her human family. It sucks when they aren’t around anymore – they are definitely family!

    You’ve taken on some amazing challenges this year! Glad to hear your energy has returned after dealing with it all. Hope 2019 brings brighter days and more building projects!

  • Mike


    So sad to hear about Bubs. You MUST get a new pal to remind yourself of the Bubs Legacy. While the new kitty would never replace him, it would be a wonderful reminder of the times you had with Bubs. That and to have a new critter killer in the house!

    I hope you are yours have a wonderful Holiday Season. Who knows, maybe Santa will get you a new Kitty :) Celebrate! You have so much going for you.

  • The Modest Mansion


    Without a doubt, building stuff is the best therapy. Immediately followed by going out and buying more power tools. Not kidding, you’ll feel better.

  • Michelle


    Hi, I just wanted to say I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet kitty Bubs. Don’t minimize that loss…our pets are very much family members whether they are dogs or cats (or ??) I love my kitty snuggles and can’t imagine the day those furry little faces (& butts) are no longer with me. We never forget them! Sending you hugs & hoping you have a peaceful holiday.

  • sweetfe


    Your cabinet front and window seat look great! Yeah you!

    I am so very sorry about the loss of your furbaby. It is heartbreaking. They are members of our families. Unconditional love has a lot going for it.

    Squirrel invasions are really not good news. You may want to check your roof. They sometime chew big holes. If you feel like being scared please read this: https://www.sopocottage.com/2018/12/renovation-realities-and-too-clever.html

    Good luck! I look forward to seeing the cabinetry once it is painted…

  • Marty


    Oh Kit, I’m so, so sorry about Bubs. I lost one of my buddies (left with 7 rescues) in April, Rodney, a polydactyl ginger kitty to cancer. Once he was diagnosed he was gone in 2 mos., to liver or kidney cancer – they didn’t know. I have a black kitty Bari too, and black or Tux were the only kitties I rescued – or rescued me, for years.

    I hope you get another kitty companion, senior, rescue, Amy when you return from your solo hike. That will be a journey I’ll love to follow as I do everyth8ng else here.

    Love the bench, and the kitchen cabinet details, as everything else you’ve done.

  • Susana


    It is no small thing to be lucky enough to find a true companion in this life. I know there will always be a Bubs-shaped space in your world. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    That window seat is the stuff of dreams. Oh, the books you will read, the naps you will take! It’s perfect. I feel sure that Bubs would approve.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Kerrie


    Of course you miss that cat. I miss that cat! He was such a light relief in your blog. I can understand why the window seat isn’t quite finished you haven’t had cat ‘help’ to get it done. I lost my old boy after 17 years and I still miss him, but I have a new rescue cat to love now and you will too when you’re ready :)

  • Theresa


    The loss of your bubs breaks my heart, Kit. I lost my bubbas this August and I can’t even say his name without bursting into tears. I highly, highly recommend this talk from author Dorie Clark about her cat Gideon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txZ2C_RmGNA&t=287s.

  • momtaxijulie


    So sorry about your kitty. I know you don’t want a replacement but I will order 2 kittens for Christmas for you 😉 I had to laugh a bit about the food in your shoes and walnuts in your laundry. Funny since it’s not me of course! That window seat is beautiful!

  • Reenie


    Kit, so sorry to hear about Bubs.

    Wow! Congrats on your hike.

  • Emma Smith


    I’ve been lurking in this blog since you bought the farmhouse, even though I’ve never built anything in my life. I’m primarily into sewing and costumes, and more recently ceramics. But I’ll plan projects and buy materials and watch the ‘to-do’ pile grow for months at a time with dread and a complete lack of motivation, until one week everything changes and I’m overflowing with motivation. And if a project starts sapping my energy to much and the motivation starts dying, I put it away, and I think about something you’ve written about a few times. I look for a small win, so that the sense of accomplishment carries me through a little more of my larger project. I want to thank you for that, because it gets me through the project and sometimes I desperately need that. You’re an inspiration.

  • Janet


    2018 was…yeah it was the year that just was. I’m pretty happy to be putting this year to bed and I’m excited for 2019. Losing animals is just unbelievably hard. I’m sorry for what you went through and will be thinking about you. Here’s to 2019 being absolutely fabulous!

  • Erin Molloy


    Hi, long time reader here. Firstly, so sorry to hear about the loss of Bubs, that must be really hard. I feel that life naturally has ebbs and flows and seeing people lives only in the snippets they want to present gives us a false sense of how we expect ourselves to do in turn- I guess what I am trying to say is hey, we get it. Take time for yourself if you need it. Love your work!

  • southerngal


    I think i posted on your FB page when you posted this but in case i didnt… want to send you condolences on losing Bubs.

    Nothing anyone can say will make a difference to your grief… but maybe knowing that many of us (me too … several times) have lost a favorite pet and KNOW what you are going thru… well, maybe its a small comfort to know you are not alone.

    my emma was the hardest (my first cat – adopted her after a relationship broke up)… she died 16 years later… oh man it still hurts … in my arms. sigh

    more since then. I am at work so I cant write more about them cause I am already crying…. hang in there.

    I was able to adopt again after a break of a few years after Emma… its not the same but different and still rewarding. my current two are very different personalities (and sizes)

    sending a big hug

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres


    I admire so much how you go all in on whatever you are doing–work, blog, farm, house. Your commitment is impressive. My sincere condolences for Bubs. I don’t know if this connects for you, but can you take the bat and mice and squirrels as signs from him? Since my Dad’s death earlier this year, I’ve seen so many things that remind me of him–admittedly I’m looking. Feeling connected even though he’s not here physically helps me so much.

  • Adam


    So sorry about your loss. I am also going on the same situation so i can understand your pain…

  • Anupama Niranjana


    I put it away, and I think about something you’ve written about a few times. I look for a small win, so that the sense of accomplishment carries me through a little more of my larger project. I want to thank you.

    Check this for Home Improvement Ideas on a Budget .

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