This past week, I had one of those This Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life moments. I realized that I was fully recovered from my gallbladder surgery and that I was finished with the weeks-long fleece hat project for the Scouts. Work is going well — I’m in no imminent danger of having to do two jobs instead of just mine. Instead of directing my energy toward dealing with physical problems or big, time-consuming commitments for Scouts, or work issues, I could focus on — what? What would I do, now that I had none of my usual excuses to fall back on? The feeling was exhilarating, liberating, even.
My typical times for navel-gazing and planning for creative work are the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and failing that, (or sometimes in addition to that), Candlemas, which is February 1. This year, neither of those times worked out because I was recovering from the gallbladder surgery over Christmas, and was still in the throes of dealing with the fleece hat project at Candlemas. This weekend would be the first opportunity I’d had all year to do some planning. I’d shuffle the guys off to their winter camping adventure, new fleece hats in hand, and repair to my sewing room to take stock.
To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, a woman must have a room of one’s own if she is to create. My sewing room is my space for creative work. More than just a place for my sewing machine and serger, it contains my planning desk, yarn stash, knitting supplies, knitting and craft library, and a daybed for flopping and perusing the same. My sewing room is aggressively feminine, with walls painted pink and floral bedding on the daybed. It’s the only room in the house where I can fully express myself. In a house otherwise full of men, my life is full of compromises.
I spent most of my discretionary time for the past six or so weeks in my sewing room, working on the 40-odd fleece hats for the Scouts. Hanging out there as much as I did, I observed that my sewing room had morphed over the past year or so from a creative space into sort of a repository of partially-finished projects, good intentions, and abandoned miscellany. Before starting any more major projects, I needed to spend some time cleaning out and letting go of projects that I’d never complete or even start, and prioritizing those projects that survived the cut. That’s what I planned to do this weekend.
This week, the weather turned sharply colder. Not just a cold snap, which implies a brief period of intense cold, but a longer cold spell. The temperature dropped to below -10 F and sulked below zero for days. On Friday, just as we were getting our coffee on and starting our day, a pipe located above the ceiling in my sewing room closet burst.
It could have been much, much worse. My husband heard the water rushing and ran to shut off the water at the main. In that short period of time, water had run down the drywall and had begun to pool on the wood floor in the sewing room, but otherwise, my things were spared. My husband was able to fix the pipe in fairly short order (it’s kind of like being married to MacGyver). He moved the daybed to expose the pipework that needed repair:
The carpet in the closet was soaked, so we took it out to dry:
Things that occupied the closet floor and also the daybed had to be moved:
Later, once the pipe had been repaired and the water was back on, we took stock of the damage. The wood floor was cracked and buckled and the drywall was wet. While I’d been spared a lot of damage by my husband’s quick action, I’d have to call our insurance agent and get the process started to file a claim and then have the floor and drywall repaired.
It’s not going to be a quick process. There will be adjusters and contractors to deal with, bids to obtain and decisions to make. Before the contractors can work, I’ll have to move about every single thing out of the sewing room. I can probably leave the contents of the cabinets, which is mostly yarn stash, if I seal the cabinets with plastic first. The rest of the stuff in the closet will have to be moved:
I wanted to clean out and organize my sewing room, but not quite to this degree. Move everything out? The bookshelves, the fabric stash, the sewing machines — everything?
I stood in my sewing room, slowly turning in a circle, taking it all in. My head was beginning to throb. I exhaled slowly. Everything? Well, if I didn’t get started, I’d surely never finish, I told myself. I started the process of throwing out the trash, setting aside things that could be donated, and repatriating things that belonged elsewhere in the house. The rest will have to move to the rec room for the duration of the repair work.
I’m hoping that this time next year, I’ll look back on this time as an opportunity to winnow my projects down to things that are important enough to me that I’ll actually finish them. That I’ll have cleaned things out and organized what’s left so that I can work more efficiently with the time I can spare to devote to creative work. But now? Right now? It’s a little overwhelming. I’m going to have to come to grips with the fact that this year won’t be so much a Year of Making as a Year of Clean Out and Repair.
I take solace in the knowledge that this could have been much, much worse.