Tag Archives: Adirondack chairs

Pleasure Grounds

By KIMBERLY MAYER

 

In my last post it was one step forward, two steps back with the deer ones eating nearly all my plantings, and in the process of watering those plants, thistle grew. An insidious, obnoxious weed.

Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back.

And every now and then, a leap. My theory is that if we weren’t plugging away step by step, we would never reach the ledge where we can jump like that. Leaps are what we live for, after all.

I had been blogging on remodeling for a year before I realized I hadn’t included any “before” and “after” photos, which must be the bread and butter of remodeling blogs. So here it goes:

Back yarrd before

our scrappy lot when we moved in

Stumps and picnic table with view

the Pacific Northwest pleasure grounds it is now.

This is where we weeded, framed the areas, and put down a weed barrier underlayment. Where we carried gravel in 5 gallon buckets, one in each hand for balance, from the driveway where the truck had dumped the load, down a long flight of stairs to empty on the underlayment. Three days of doing this, four yards of gravel. My husband’s FitBit read 12 miles each day. We have a friend on island who sent her gravel downhill by constructing a chute out of tarp. In our case it was a staircase, and so we had to carry.

This is where we dine on an oversized Western red cedar table made by our friend Bill Maas at Egglake Sawmill & Shake. Where we will sit around bonfires at night whenever the drought ends, and otherwise just sit around. Where we wrap ourselves in Pendleton wool throws at night and place our beer or wine or Moscow mule glasses on cedar stump tables beside each chair.

The cedar stumps too came from Egglake Sawmill & Shake, rough with bark. First the edges were routed to create a smooth bevel at the rim and base, then the bark was peeled, and the stumps were sanded–first with a belt-sander, then fine sanding. Finally, multiple coats of a clear polyurethane coating, and when dry, they were good to go.

Stumps on deck

There were eight stumps in total. Four around the fire, three on a deck between Adirondack chairs there too, and one was so grand in size and particularly good looking, I placed it in the living room. My thinking now is that every French bergère chair should have a rustic cedar stump beside it.

Stump in living room

So what if it slants a little?

Outside again, this is where we have every intention to play bocce ball—once we get the right material in the court and compact it with a lawn roller and do everything right. For a premium surface—where the balls roll fast, track straight, and absorb bounce–building a bocce ball court is much like constructing, and maintaining, a Japanese Zen garden. In the end it is covered with crushed oyster shells and dusted with “oyster flour” made from pulverized oyster shells, for proper texture and drainage.*

Who knew?

What a difference a year makes. In Seattle it was all about fine dining, theatre, and literary readings. In the islands, crab boils upon picnic tables, gravel, and oyster flour.

*Note: Ours will be less than perfect. Paul calls it a drunken bocce ball court because it is not completely level.

 

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One Million Mary Oliver Moments

Fiday Harbor Marina

Two postcards arrived in the mail this week that turned me around and blew me away. One, a black & white notification for renewal of our post office box. And the other, an illustrated reminder of the San Juan Artists’ Studio Tour, coming up June 6 & 7, an event we attended last year. Can it be we will have been here a year?

What started as a spontaneous decision, i.e. “Let’s move to the islands!” has taken a year to implement.

Our daughters are the adults now. They are working and commuting and making plans for the future. They are growing their careers, while we are growing spring salad greens and arugula. These are their globe-trotting days, while we are walking everywhere. Indeed, my husband is a trekker.

Now we are the ones mucking around in the waters and digging in the sand. Assembling Adirondack chairs like so many tinker toys, and building bonfires as if we were at camp. Taking all our cues from nature.

Talking to the attentive deer of the forest, assuring them they are safe. Going ecstatic over waterfowl. Gray  herons, gulls at play, soaring eagles. The slow turning of the seasons, the eruption of spring. The racket of crickets in tall grasses and frogs mating in marshes. The fox who congregate on the beach to yip at full moons, we are listening to you all. We see the sun come up each morning and wake each other if it’s particularly beautiful, and watch it set.

Standing Heron

One million Mary Oliver moments in each day, that is why I live here.

“Life doesn’t go in a straight line, it goes in a circle,” notes my father at 91 years of age.

Full circle is what I feel when the ferry arrives in port in Friday Harbor. Walk-on passengers move to the bow of the boat with their bags, bikes and children. Cars follow at a distance, driving at a pedestrian pace, climbing the shining village on the hill.

Refugees from the mainland.

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Time After Time

Clock on the Mantle -1

The old clock always knew where it was going. Not us. We didn’t know we would uproot our lives in the city and move to the San Juan Islands. And we didn’t know what the house would be until we came home with a 9 1/2 foot yew log for a mantle and didn’t want to cut it down. But when we realized that a rock wall would be best behind it, it was decided then, I think, the house would go Lodge Style.

From that moment on I looked for rustic furnishings and rugs. Our hardwood floors were already distressed. Like a dock, I thought at the time. It was summer then, and I was thinking along the lines of a beach house. But in moving over to Lodge Style, everything worked in concert. Including all our “nicer things:” candelabras, linens, chandeliers, art and books.

And an heirloom of mine, an eight day time and strike mahogany shelf clock, circa early 1800’s. Today, the heartbeat of the house. So tightly wound in its packing crate, it started ticking when placed upon the mantle. That’s why I say the old clock always knew where it was going.

Pano from the Beach

Give me a day like this and I re-appreciate passing time. The season is turning and we will all be coming out of the darkness like moles. The sun is something we’ll have to adjust to again. It all rushes back to me: light filled days and nights, how awake we will be, and what we can accomplish.

Soon we’ll drop household projects and favor everything outdoors. What is done in the remodel will be done. Our priorities will shift.

It will be far more important to hold the seawall, reinforcing it with logs and rocks. We will want to build another set of Adirondack chairs with ottomans for the upper deck, staining them in the sun. Pick up a picnic table, cook and eat alfresco. Vegetables to get growing; an old deer fence to reinforce first. Forage for clams, oysters and crab on the beach.

Essentially we will live outside. Hang a hammock, and call it a day.

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A Circle of Six

6 Chairs

My husband and I are between homes and living on a boat in The San Juan Islands. Our home of the last seven years in Seattle is on the market. We left it looking picture perfect for a remodel project that we go to every day, on island. First we fell in love with the island, and then with the property: a sloping side of old growth forest on a quiet bay.

The house itself was hideous, but we knew we could do something with that. “There never has been a house so bad,” noted Elsie de Wolfe, “that it couldn’t be made over into something worthwhile.” Elsie was the woman who practically invented Interior Design.

But back to the land. Afterall, it’s all about the land and the sea. That’s what calls us here and holds us here. We reimagine our lives with each move.

My philosophy in moving–I’ve moved often enough in my life to have developed a philosophy–is to create a zone that I can go to initially, where everything is ideal. I can’t tell you how often these “rooms” have been outdoors.

In San Diego I found a shady spot out back under a trellis draped in grape vines where I contemplated growing everything in mossy, old world pots. It was my sanctuary.

And when all the house was covered with drop cloths in the tumult of renovation on Mercer Island, the deck was what pulled me through. Out there I saw how well the orchid plants were doing, resting on the rail overlooking the lake after their cross-country move in a truck. We had flown in, how could I complain?

Here, I created my zone by carrying up rocks from the beach and building a fire pit in a clearing. Around that I envisioned a circle of cedar Adirondack chairs. It was as simple as that and we built it.

So our pow wow is up and ready, long before the house. This is where I sit under the cathedral of trees and remember why I am here. I will learn the bird calls by day and find my way among the stars at night. And it will all be so clear.

Everyone has their own immigrant story, but at one time we were all indigenous people somewhere. Come, count yourself among us.

 

 

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Crazy Making

Garrison Bay 2

Moving is crazy making, especially when we bring it on ourselves. Anyone who knows me or has been reading me, knows how fond I am of Seattle. But in all our excursions to the San Juan Islands, we found something. So I am leaving the city I love for a little home in the woods on a bay. In a perfect world I’d have a pied- à -terre in the city too.

Preparing a home to go on the market, on one hand, and remodeling another house with the other, I lost my stride of a weekly post in blogging. Other bloggers are running circles around me, and because I must jump back in, here it goes:

I have to try this. My romance of living on the water and writing in a hut down by the water’s edge. The wind in the pines and water over rock. The fresh smell of cedar. The smile of a rope hammock hanging between trees. The quietude of kayaks. The grilling of fish, and the taste of the ocean in each raw oyster and boiled crab. Growing our own everything, and what we don’t grow, purchasing from people who do. Adirondack chairs circling a stone fire pit. Watching the fire and watching the stars at night.

This is not going to come by staying put.

It is important to note whether one is moving-towards or moving-away. This is a moving-towards. Only a couple times in my life have I felt the need to move away. Once was from St. Thomas U.S.V.I., and had nothing to do with St. Thomas or The Virgin Islands. The other was from Los Angeles, and had everything to do with LA.

Long ago I set off on a journey with my little neighbor, Tony, into the woods behind our homes. We couldn’t have been more than five or six. I was sure it would lead to somewhere. That we’d come to some place magical like Oz, if we just persevered. Tony, however, turned around and headed home.

This girl kept going. And before long the woods did come out somewhere, but it was just another nice neighborhood in Connecticut. One that looked much like mine, but wasn’t. I was lost. So I did what Dorothy did and knocked on a front door.

It was the age of women at home, and so I was in luck. A kindly lady invited me in, seated me at her kitchen table and fed me milk and cookies. I didn’t notice, but she must have slipped out of the room to call the police and report a lost child. For it wasn’t long before an officer arrived at her house too. How cool was that? I got to come home in a cruiser! 

Look at all Tony missed by turning around.

 

I recently wrote my daughter:

I am sixty-two years old and live, as you know, on one of the “hills” in Seattle in a lovely little English Tudor home where a chandelier is reflected in a Venetian mirror. And I just bought a waterfront house in the islands that’s a total rehab with a trailer dumped on the lot. And all I want to do is go out there and clear brush! Am I nuts?

And she answered:

The best kind of nuts! You’ve lived in plenty of lovely neighborhoods, but you’ve never lived by the sea on a remotish-island. I am so excited for you.

 

 

 

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