Tag Archive | Community Forklift

Grief and Gardening Tips

I did not know it was possible to actually die of a broken heart, and yet my neighbor Kathleen has done just that. She just laid down in the bed and didn’t get up again. Her heart stopped.

Sometimes there is a moment in time, or an experience that will bond people together forever, like a lens peering into the emotions of another human, so real and vulnerable that their pain is your pain, a kind of empathy squared. One of those moments came the night Kathleen spent with my husband. That night, they drove my brother to rehab, and she swore the next time she would bring a toothbrush.

Kathleen knew a good place and could get my brother a spot, just as soon as he sobered up… Kathleen was in recovery herself and former addicts come with a streak of MUST GIVE BACK to society because they’ve pissed on too many lawns and done their fair share of wreaking havoc that there is an intense debt, a hole they have to fill, that only driving people to rehab and checking on your dog after an earthquake, can fill. And that brother of mine? 10 years later he has found sobriety.

I will never know the depths of sorrow that Kathleen felt after losing both of her sons to the opioid epidemic, but she never failed to make me laugh, ever. Damn she was funny.

For example, I made Spanikopita for her after a funeral and received a text a few weeks later….. “Just want you to know I refrained from sending you a picture of me rolling around naked in your spinach pie….” And I knew she was alright, at least for a moment.

When I first moved back to Maryland my new puppy chose her feet to pee on, and so she wore Crocs. Drawn together by toddlers and obligations, plants and old junk, she was the one who introduced me to Community Forklift. Kathleen said, “You will never believe this place…. follow me over the railroad tracks and down to the river….” and I thought, “This is it. She’s lost her mind.” But there it was, the place where I would work for the next seven years (and counting).

Recently Kathleen sent me some gardening tips, which I felt I should share, being as it’s springtime and this is a home sort of blog:

  • If you have greased your shepherd’s hooks with Vaseline to keep the squirrels off the suet cakes, it is important to remember you have done this. That way, you don’t grab it, pull and have your hand fly off and hit you in the face. It can cause a nosebleed.
  • When custom mixing soils for a particular plant in high winds, do not stand downwind and put the lightest soil in first. This will keep you from becoming covered in peat moss.
  • If you decide to just plop your butt on the ground while weeding, it is important to notice if it’s a holly tree. Self explanatory.

The tears sliding down my cheeks when I found out she had passed away made me feel guilty and a little bit selfish. Kathleen was suffering, and there was no amount of Spanikopita or cookies that would take it away. Even Regina smiled and said, “Well mom, she is with her boys now.” For once, I didn’t correct her, because maybe Regina is right. Who am I to say?

©copyright Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2021.

A Long Awaited Photoshoot

This post is to prevent Community Forklift from having the complete scoop on my bathroom. I’ve been prodded into action by a co-worker, because Community Forklift has a blog-post scheduled about sustainability and design, featuring MY bathroom.

Why, what bathroom is that? The one we’ve just added, of course! The others already existed, so their sustainability was never in question.

Ooh la la!

I had trouble photographing the new bathroom because there is always someone in it. Can’t find the dogs? They’re probably lying on the heated floor. The youngest child? She’s sitting on the seat playing in the spa-like shower. Fortunately, almost all are afraid of the toilet as the bidet/toilet combo has scared them off entirely. We are now properly prepared for any toilet paper shortage that might come in 2021. You can’t be too careful.

An open European style shower.

So, feast your eyes. The sink is an American Standard commercial fixture from 1928. The towel bar is made of milk glass. The hardware is vintage art-deco and the lines mimic the lines on the sink. The shelves are reclaimed heart pine from Brick + Board. The door, the glass block window, and the soap dish all represent elements of reuse in this luxurious bathroom. The tile is Portuguese ceramic from a high-end donation that came to Community Forklift. The design evolved around all of these reusable items we wanted to incorporate. Not only is it a sustainable option to include reclaimed items in your renovations, but it is affordable. The quality of these older materials are not what you find in newer items made today, unless you are prepared to go for broke.

A mini-tour of the new bathroom.

This bathroom was gifted to us by my in-laws who wanted to upgrade our (their) guest space. I am grateful because it is something many people will enjoy for years to come, including us!

A milk glass towel bar!
Heart pine floating shelves.
1928 American Standard commercial wall sink with legs!

Our contractor who did the work? An artisan craftsman (who moonlights as a therapist) shall remain anonymous because I am not finished with him yet.

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2020.

Turf Wars

I have occupied every corner of this house. Admittedly, it’s not that big for a house, but still. As soon as I create a space in which to work, it gets taken over by someone I might be related to. A troubling discovery that is problematic.

I finally carved out a space I don’t think will get conquered. Not even by the ones who are working from home, schooling from home, zooming into all kinds of games, or even the dogs. It’s close enough I can fend off any would-be attackers. It happened by accident. I was working on a different space when inspiration struck, and I knew it was right.

Considering whether or not to surround it with caution tape.

When I have my own space, I get things accomplished! This is evidenced by two blog posts (!) within the week! Or maybe the fact that our car is still in the driveway, since I have a space in which I can sit down and pay the bills.

In disguise!

This new highly-coveted space is in my bedroom, and close enough in proximity that I can defend its territory. It’s an old-fashioned secretary desk that I got from my favorite hang-out spot, you know the one I work at, Community Forklift. It is a vintage piece that is chalk-painted with good functionality. I love that the color is camouflage in my bedroom and blends in with the wall, making the room seem larger and preventing any enemy action. I have set up a station of icons on one shelf, to deter anyone from taking over, and make it mine. I have to pray to the saints while I am working, just to get things done, and cannot be left to my own devices. It’s a good system and I have staked my claim.

All the saints watching over me (and my new space)!

There is no plug nearby, or task lighting, so it’s not perfect. I am using the drawers for my clothes and the cushioned stools, which already lived here, are the perfect height to sit and work. I can stash mail, hide the clutter, find a stamp, and after eight years in this house, sit somewhere to write. 😊

At last!

Multi-tasking furniture is key to efficiently designed spaces, and vintage furniture is often practical, small in scale, and adds an element of sustainability to your design. Try it out! These secretary desks are common finds and the price at Community Forklift is usually in the $150-$200 range, which is do-able.

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2020.

My Trash Story

Since working at Community Forklift for three years now, I’ve taken to a different view of dumpster diving. It’s a sort of rescue mission, a diversionary tactic for landfill-headed junk. I am not a dumpster diver…. I AM SAVING THE EARTH! This is an empowering feeling, even if the skeptics call it spin. I never exactly felt bad about dumpster diving before, but now it holds an elevated sense of purpose bordering my morality.

You would not believe the stuff people throw away. It is true that trash tells a story. I often wonder why someone would get rid of this…. or that. Things that are fabulous among the rubble, no matter your sense of style. Trash is an exercise in diversity.

Working in a reuse store gives you a birds-eye view of the excess of American culture. Imagine creating 30-40 jobs just sorting out and selling old stuff: the cast-offs, dirty and dusty, waiting to be claimed and given a little TLC. That is what we do every day.

Just yesterday I dragged this chair home with me. While on our evening walk, the dog and I examined it with our cellphone flashlight and carried it at least half a mile. Juggling the poo bag, the found rocking chair, and the leash was a workout rivaling Crossfit. We did make it all the way home in tact.

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A rocking chair story.

Behold this beauty! I have only one question for you all: why are we wasting our time shopping for anything new? Let your trash tell its’ story.

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Found rocking chair.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2017 at Simply Turquoise.

Community Forklift!

My dear readers, I have been neglecting you. I am sorry. There is so much news to share, I am not sure where to start!

Recognize that huge Rothko poster?

Recognize that huge Rothko poster? Me and the baby (my sister is holding the camera) shopping in 2012.

I am working full-time. I know, right? Weird. I have never worked full-time in my life. Not counting the full-time mommy-ing, the orchestral musician and teacher thing, or even the part-time office manager-ing thing or blog thing I have been doing lately. Somehow, I have managed to combine an insane work-a-holic type ethic without ever actually holding a full-time job. I am expecting my therapist to call any minute now.

My new playground.

My new playground.

Yet, everything has fallen into place. I have found the quirkiest, funkiest place to work! I am working as the Office Manager for Community Forklift. This place promotes the careful deconstruction of building materials for reuse. Their motto is: “the greenest building material is the one that already exists.” If I could ever take a break long enough to walk around the 34,000 square foot warehouse, I would be in heaven, and probably broke too.

My dining room chandelier.

My dining room chandelier: a diamond in the rough.

We Americans waste so much. Community Forklift saves something like a ga-zillion tons of trash from going into the landfill by collecting donated building supplies. That little trinket you lost from your faucet? We’ve probably got one. A cracked tile? No worries… we may have a replacement.

An aisle of ceramics.

An aisle of ceramics.

No doubt Community Forklift rewards the creative mind that can piece things together. That is often how you wind up with something truly unique, like the old church cornice that now sits in my dining room as an architectural piece.

I have found art, antiquities, garden supplies, and light fixtures. With some elbow grease and creativity, you can bring a little old, quirky or upcycled element of design into your home. I encourage you to come on over to Community Forklift and think outside the box. I may even be able to come down and meet you.

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.