Inside the Hammock

I searched my blog only to discover I had forgotten to tell you about the hammock. Yes, the one inside the house.

It’s not a traditional style hammock, the type you hang between trees or suspend in a stand, but rather more like a hanging chair and it’s my favorite spot. 

My favorite spot.

My favorite spot.


It took awhile to get it right. At first, we bought a stand, but it broke. It bent under the weight of all the kids sitting in it, like a puppy pile-up.

Lounging teen.

Lounging teen.


Then we hung it from the ceiling and followed the directions to a T. My son ended up on the floor twice with the hardware barely missing his head. But I did not give up.
Hanging hammock chair.

Hanging hammock chair.

 

Finally we bolted it through the joist and used an aircraft-rated wing nut to hold it in place. We added a swivel device so the hammock could spin without unscrewing the mechanism. It’s worked and the hammock is secure now.

Inspired by Pinterest.

Inspired by Pinterest.

 

Inspired by Pinterest and because I owned one already, I threw a circular sisal rug under the hammock chair to define the space. It’s tucked away in the office area and near a window that looks out on the backyard. It’s the perfect quiet spot. 

A porch is perfect!

A porch is perfect!

 
If you have an engineer handy to help you install an indoor hammock, I highly recommend it. 

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2016.

Texture through Art

Texture. It is so important. In design, it’s the element that brings the POP! and the WOW! factor to your space. Like the humor in a speech or the color in a drawing. Without texture, your space would ultimately be dull and flat.

An anthropological study in plaster.

An anthropological study in plaster, by John Snogren.

 

These pieces hanging in my dining room serve as a reminder that art is a living idea, meant to stir up discussion and provoke thought. I see them as a study of our culture through what’s been left behind… Bits of rubbish, a clock, remnants of polite society mixed with cigarettes and bouncy balls, as if fossilized. No matter what, it has stirred up conversation and that is the purpose of art.

A clock, close-up.

A clock, close-up.

 

Art should make you want to reach out and touch it. Art with form and dimension will spice up your flat wall and cast shadows, playing on the light.

A flute player in bronze

A flute player in bronze

Over time I have developed this knack for adding texture.

Feathers!

Feathers!

 

A wire dress form.

A wire dress form.

 

Layering adds texture

Layering adds texture.

 

Everyday items as art.

Everyday items as art.

 

Cutting boards and pots, a sculptural and useful display in the kitchen, wed form with function and bring the idea of texture in.

Breathe some life into your room by using this simple idea of texture in your space and see what you think. I know you’re going to love it.

 

Orchids as sculpture

Orchids as sculpture

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Shower Doors-1, Marriage-0

Why does the word divorcee seem so glamorous? In my mind, that word evokes images of socialite Wallis Simpson, holding a martini and seeming free of obligations or burden.

When I tell you that ripping out the shower doors in my downstairs bathroom almost caused the demise of my marriage, I am mostly not kidding. But that glamorized version in my mind of the divorcee causes me to proceed with reckless abandon. This is not good. Not good at all.

The Before

The Before.

It all started with an innocent search of the Internet. My downfall came when I read that one woman had removed her shower doors in half an hour. Liar.

Easy Going

Easy Going

Things went smoothly at first. Parts of the doors just fell off (with the help of the drill) while my husband was in a huff about how he can’t ever turn his back on me because I’ll start removing pieces of the house if he isn’t looking and other such nonsense. Normally, he is very supportive of my DIY projects, as long as I give him three years’ notice.

Almost done!

Almost done! This is what was left of a 2×4.

After he exited the scene, I started running into trouble. The frame came out, but there was wood behind it and it was glued to the tile.

I struggled and struggled and finally got it free. In my moment of glory the three year old said, “I knew you could do it Mommy!” Of course, she was the only one willing to hang out with me, and I had been wrestling with that wood for an hour. It was either IT or ME.

They are gone!

They are gone!

I like how visually clean it looks now. I had to grout the tile behind the frame, wrestle with all the caulk and glue, and re-do the caulk in the shower. But I did it. All by myself! Well, me and my mini cheerleader together.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink!

Now that calls for a martini!
© copyright 2015 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

A Late Bloomer

Back in the day, in order to have green fabric, they used arsenic in the dye. Nowadays, we take this color thing for granted. We have every color in the rainbow available to us, minus the poison!

This is so technologically advanced, it blows my mind.

I have always had trouble knowing what my favorite color was. When people asked me that question, so seemingly simple, I would waffle. I had no idea. I liked them all. My kids begged me to tell them my favorite color and I couldn’t do it.

Ponies in the Marsh.

Ponies in the Marsh at Assateague State Park.

One day my husband said to me, “are you kidding me? You bought another green sweater? I think that’s a record.” It was true. I had fourteen green sweaters and it suddenly dawned on me… like a piece of information that had been hiding in the shadows, lurking.  I love green!  I knew it like I know my own name…. all of a sudden.

Green and grey eye candy.

Green and grey eye candy from Pinterest.

It hasn’t faded. Just like my color commitment phobia before, now I knew with certainty that I craved the color green. It embodies life itself. It represents the earth freshly watered and the grass after a storm. Green is a living color, the color of moss and trees, artichokes and asparagus, mojitos, margaritas and of course Kermit the Frog.

Emerald green!

Emerald green!

I held out on this life-altering decision, and like a late bloomer, am now longing for green. I want an emerald green sofa. I want to cast off the old “sofas should be neutral rule” so you can change the cheap things and instead bring green into my house like a tattoo I can’t easily get rid of. I want to commit to this color.

Green inspiration.

A painting on silk by my great grandmother Lela Knox.

  Perhaps this is a rebellion of sorts, a rebellion against the rules of design. But for me, there is no going back.

© copyright 2015 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Serendipity

Sometimes serendipity smacks you in the face and there is no explanation for it. That is what happened to me tonight. I had dinner with two perfect strangers… Serendipitous strangers. 
I checked into a hotel in Connecticut. In fact, the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in. It was a beautiful room with the feel of a retreat. I was in this hotel because it was near to the place I needed to be at the time. Near my stepmother as she was dying.

Stepmother is such a loaded term. A term filled with cultural uncertainty. A word that can span the spectrum of meaning: an evil stepmother? A Cinderella-esque situation? Or all the way to the opposite side: the almost unimaginable kind person who cared for a child/children not her own. I mean, who does that? And in real life? Maybe this is why it is so easy to embrace the evil stepmother image, because kind stepmother is too hard to imagine.

But I was lucky. Actually we were lucky to have her. She was an amazing stepmother and she cared for us part-time from about age 8 on. I fully admit this is the unimaginable scenario that is almost boring.

She passed away this morning, but I have no regrets. I told her I loved her and what she meant to me. I spent time with her while she was ill and saw her in these last days. She had suffered a lot.

Back at the inn I had stepped out for a breath of fresh air. The innkeeper saw me outside and asked how things had gone. After I explained, she invited me to join her and her friend for dinner- even if I just needed a good cry. Oh my was I surprised and I decided to join them. 

It was a beautiful evening I will never forget with two intelligent, empathetic, accomplished women who were full of life, laughter and sound advice. My faith in this world was renewed and it was the perfect medicine. 

So… Because this is a decorating blog and not the writer’s forum, grief counseling or parenting blog it has morphed into, I’m attaching some grainy iPhone photos of the inn. You should stay here. You should go to Connecticut and see the scenery and say hello to Pam the innkeeper who made Connecticut feel more like North Carolina because…

It. Is. Spectacular. Full stop.

Simsbury 1820 House.

The Simsbury 1820 House.

The resevoir.

The nearby resevoir view.

Old garage doors.

A little architectural salvage.

The writer's desk.

The writer’s desk.

Old garage doors

Old garage doors.

 
© copyright 2015 Mariam d’Eustachio 2015.

An Essay on Grief

This is a different sort of blog post. On the surface it is a book review. But it is also a reflection on grief. If you are nervous, then go ahead and move along. I will not hold it against you.

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

The book Rare Bird, a Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson is about grief, profound and gripping. The kind of book that asks more of a reader than a few hours of undivided attention. It lets you glimpse the world of a mother struggling to cope with the loss of her son, questioning God in her most private moments, consumed by grief and ultimately facing the question of… why?

My own experience with grief was physical. It has faded with time, but when I first lost this person, I had stress headaches, my throat closed and I could not eat for days. He was like a father to me and I was instantly filled with regret that maybe he never knew how much I had loved him. My tendency to be formal and wrap my heart up in bubble wrap, just to keep it from breaking, did not stop the heartbreak now. It only caused me to regret that I had not told him how much he meant to me when he was alive. But he knew. I know that now because he has shown me since.

This is where the book comes in. Even in death, there is comfort and hope. I look at my own twelve-year old son and think how fragile he is. It is possible to experience completely opposite emotions at once: like despair and love simultaneously. The author, Anna Whiston-Donaldson eloquently describes this phenomenon in her book Rare Bird. She shows us that “the line between here and there is a thin one.”

This book gave me the courage to visit my grandmother the other day. Normally I would not need to draw on my courage to go see her, but she has deteriorated and her Alzheimer’s disease is advanced now. I was afraid she would not know me, or that she would be experiencing sun-downing, or that she would be asleep and I would be disturbing her. But none of those things happened and it was one of the best times I ever had with her. I will cherish it always.

When I arrived, she did not know me exactly, but she knew I was important to her. The delight on her face as I told her about myself was sincere and she was proud of my accomplishments all over again. It was so funny when she exclaimed, “I could pull some strings and get you a gig in here!” It made me smile and I know that she knows how much I love her because she remembered the emotions she had for me even before she remembered who I was.

My dear friend is facing the challenges addressed by this book directly. Her twelve-year old son has a terminal illness. I can only look on and try to help and support her from the sidelines, occasionally offering an ear, a shoulder, or a cup of tea. This friend recently described to me how sharply the world has come into focus for her at times, seeing the trees and the grass in vivid color and knowing all too well how fleeting it is. At the same time, she feels she is blessed and she stands tall like the tree in the midst of a hurricane, bending but never breaking. She has deep roots and draws her strength from the water, the earth, and from God Himself. I am amazed by her beauty and strength. I will give her this book.

Rare Bird, a Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a gift. It is a gift of life; the life you may find unimaginable after suffering a loss. It reminds us to untangle the barriers we put up and to love those around us freely; to let go of the fear of losing them. It reminds us that you are “braver than you think.”

© copyright 2015 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.