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Giving up secrets

Moving into a new house, especially one where other people have lived for a long time, requires pulling back layers to figure out how things work and to find out what is already there.

Sometimes the layers are literal. I have heard from many people about peeling off gobs and gobs of wallpaper and paint to get down to original walls. We didn't have to do any of that, as our house was rebuilt in the early 2000s. A few days ago, though, I was getting rid of some of the things the previous owners had left behind, and I went to throw away a folded up cardboard box that had been sitting in a corner of the living room.

A collection of old wallpaper scraps fell out onto the floor. There were two types of wallpaper sandwiched between the cardboard, one with pastel roses and one with a vertical pattern of imperial blue and gold.

We have been looking at a lot of design magazines, and apparently this is something one does these days: display the original woodwork, the original paint, the original wallpaper, to get a sense of what was there before.

We have one photograph of the original house that was left behind, hanging on the kitchen wall. The photograph is dated 1997. We hung that photograph and a sample of the old wallpapers on the staircase wall. They seem well suited there.

Cottage core

Cottage core. Not a term I was familiar with until my daughter used it to describe the aesthetic she wants for her bedroom. Apparently it looks like what you see in this photo:

We are lacking storage space in the upstairs, and another idea that came from a magazine was to use a lovely walking stick we found leaning against the house for ... something. This is what we came up with: a place to hang clothes. There was an old ball of rusty wire in the woodshed that we used to suspend the stick horizontally from the ceiling, attached at both ends. The daughter is happy with the end result.

I keep thinking how proud my dad would be. He used to make use of what he called "baling wire" to hold all kinds of things together -- anything from the muffler of his farm truck to the legs of a chair. I am not sure he would appreciate the cottage core aesthetic, but he would no doubt be impressed that I found a use for baling wire.

Off the hook

A few days ago I wrote about clearing out the garden, which so far has been an unending chore of clearing nettles and brambles. I was making pretty good progress one day--enough so that I could enter into a clearing between some trees without tripping over undergrowth--and I looked up to see a U hook hammered into the trunk of a tree. There was so much undergrowth there that I thought I had ventured into a place where no person had ever stepped foot, so this was a surprise.

"What do you think this is?" I hollered to the Banker.

"Check the tree behind you," he hollered back.

I did, and there was another U hook.

There was an old hammock left behind in the sunroom, and we had searched the property trying to find a suitable pair of trees to suspend it from. It turned out that I found the perfect trees quite by accident, in a place where I assumed no one had tread before. It turns out I was wrong.

With an added incentive to finish up the task, I beat the hell of that undergrowth. Four loads went up in the wheelbarrow to the compost site in our forest.

And as a reward, this. I got to lie in a hammock perfectly suited for this space, stare up at the sky through the tree canopy, listen to the sea grass wave beside me, with a cold beer in my hand. It. Was. Wonderful.

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