"The book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us."

-- Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollak (1904)


Tin Tile Mirror -- WIP

This sheet of vintage tin tiles arrived today. I'm going to remove the central 2x2 tile square, mount the remainder over a mirror on a plywood/MDF backing, and hang the assemblage between two sconces in our entryway.

I was going to paint the tiles, but I actually like the old chipped paint and the aged patina.

If you look closely, you can see that the sheet is two sheets, folded over each other -- so I've can make a second mirror to give as a gift.

The extra tiles (8 in all) will be cut out and mounted on wood strips. I'll affix hooks to the centers of them, and voila -- instant coat/towel hooks.

Using every bit of the pig, you see...



MJ was in our only bathroom, and Jane needed to go. But since we are working on not shouting in the house, another means of communication was necessary.

She slipped it under the door. She is three years and ten months old today.


Granite & Me

I never thought I'd be picking out a granite countertop. I never thought I'd buy granite, period. It's expensive, heavy, prone to stain if not sealed properly, and it requires annual re-sealing, which is a lot of maintenance for someone who can't even be bothered to blow dry her hair.

But I conceived this opinion before I had: an active kid for whom the etiquette of restaurants, like sitting still and not shouting, is an incomprehensible torture; a renovation that eats the disposable income we used to spend feeding ourselves in restaurants; and my irritating dietary restrictions, which take a lot of the fun out of eating out.

So I am cooking. A lot. And the countertop we have is taking a beating from knives, spills, bangs, bumps, and hot pans.

Originally I spec'd Paperstone countertops for our kitchen renovation. But these countertops are heat-resistant only to 350 degrees, which means that when I take the five-hundred degree cast iron pot out of the oven, I'm going to have to put it... Where? Oh, right -- on the large granite tile I bought for hot pans. Which is under the sink. Or in the pantry. Or in Jane's room. Or something. Oh, wow, this pan is hot.

Another eco-friendly alternative, Richlite, is $80 a square foot. Not cost-effective. Formica, butcher block, tile, concrete, corian -- all wrong for various reasons. So, granite: a stone good for tombstones and other icons of permanence. The woman at the store says it will last through many renovations. This is not a purchase, it is a marriage. It is so hard to reconcile this material with my affection for what is ephemeral and fragile, and with my efforts thus far to render this affection safely and cost-effectively in our design. Will the stone look bizarre with the junk shop aesthetic I'm trying to cultivate?

In another life, I must have been a bee, living in a paper house with lots of shelving.


Things Necessary

My mother has been in and out of the hospital since October. Right now she's in a nursing home, recovering from her broken knee, and the subsequent infection she got somewhere inside RI's labyrinthine system for the care of the elderly and infirm. Today, for the first time since her dementia diagnosis, and in between terrible bouts of vomiting, she asked me for a paper and pencil. She wanted to make a list. Here is what she wrote: Things necessary.

I left some time later, & spent the afternoon with Jane, doing certain very necessary things, like taking a walk in the woods, shopping for summer dresses, and eating cones of vanilla chip ice cream. I did not write, although I thought about it, in between remembering my mother, working at her easel or the typewriter during the long summer afternoons, or driving me around, trying to distract me, on the night I didn't have a date for the ninth grade dance. The ice cream parlor where I sat with Jane was also where I worked my fifteenth summer, and as I looked out at the village center, time stopped, briefly, and then went backwards. Everything was just the way it was twenty years ago, right down to the trees and the grass and the robins in the shrubbery. I pressed my lips to Jane's head; she licked up the last of her ice cream; and it seemed that my father was still waiting in the parking lot with the engine running while I polished the last of the silver ice cream bins.

It is hard to reconcile this sadness and nostalgia with what I also know to be true: that during my childhood and adolescence I was alone and silent a great deal; that school, which might have been a refuge, was violent and frightening; and that my mother, also, was violent and frightening.


Small(er) Town

Sometimes now the New Yorker comes weeks late, well thumbed, with bits torn out.


Light in the Kitchen

kitchen - in progress
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Here's a view of the kitchen. Not much to look at yet, apart from the light, which comes in here from the east and south. Nice lemony light. Note the dark balloon framing around the windows -- that's original, from 1910. (The windows, obviously, are new.) The floor will be oak eventually.

Overlook Window

Overlook Window
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Here's the window (approx. 29 x 31 in) we're installing in the stairwell, where the sitting room looks over the staircase. We needed to install something in the overlook for safety -- JJ likes to climb. The window cost $65 -- yep, more than twice the cost of a $30 generic barn sash. But it's a real antique. And it's historically accurate for the house. And, best of all, I found it right here in the neighborhood, so it cost nothing to transport it, and the purchase was convenient.

Wholly Vertical

main room - in progress
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Our newly rebuilt back wall is now perfectly vertical. A big improvement over the sloping wall that looked like it was about to fall in. Transom windows -- not cheap, but a big win. There's a third set of doors and windows to on the left, beyond the frame -- the room is nice and light. Notice, also, the bare cement floor. It used to be 1980s-style slate, but we took it up ourselves -- with crowbars and chisels, no less. The floor will soon be hardwood (oak).



A great idea: 10 sq meters of your own high-end high-tech private space, rentable while stuck at Heathrow. Coming soon to an airport near me, I hope...

Where's the Blueprint?

Via BoingBoing, a periodic table of visualization methods. I might have missed something but I don't see blueprints or engineering drawings on the map. Oh well.


Revision Is Hell

Reading same 100 pages for what must be the fifteenth time. Still finding mistakes, too. Yeech.