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.)
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…
(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.
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)…
And has been with me through every house, every relationship, every project…
And every blog post since…
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…
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.
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.
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.
As one does.
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.
It looks civilized from the outside, but the inside is just a mess of blocking.
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…
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.)
And just to provide context for the size of this beast…
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…
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.
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…
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?
After three years of staring at the ass-end of these cabinets, I finally got my act together and finished them.
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.
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?
Perfect trim boards.
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.
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.
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.